The good thing with the stress of the holidays is that it is predictable. Unlike other types of stress that we encounter in life, we know exactly when it will start and when it will finish! Therefore, we can organize ourselves in order to avoid it or at least control it.
In our previous post “6 causes of Christmas stress and depression” we outlined the major causes why for many people Christmas holidays is a period of depression and stress. These are:
- Absence of a beloved person
- Family misunderstandings
- The economic difficulties
- Physical tiredness
- Seasonal Emotional Disturbance
In this post, we give 15 tips to follow in order to make this Christmas holidays a period of joy and happiness.
1. Put priorities
Before you find yourself tight up with too many activities and obligations, decide what activities have a positive influence on you and offer you something important and which are superfluous. Select to participate in those that are important to you and enjoy them, leaving aside those you do not like.
For example, if you are drowned by the idea that you would have to prepare heaps of homemade sweets and candy then perhaps a good idea would be to purchase them or ordered them by someone who makes homemade candy.
2. Change your expectations about family gatherings
Either with friends or with relatives, it is good to know your limits and know how long you want to spend with others and how long with yourself or a very closed circle. Remember from previous years what pleased you and what caused you stress and act accordingly.
Perhaps you should review how many family tables you “must” organise for your relatives and in how many family tables/parties you “must” go. Examine the “must go” and convince yourself and accept that in life there is also the option of saying “NO”. Also, put limits on how long you will spend on family tables and what are you willing to tolerate from disruptive relatives. To know when to say NO will help you avoid the excessive “overload” and it will also let you enjoy holidays.
3. Organize and Plan
Organize and plan what you have to do, prepare before Christmas to-do lists with the things that you need to do and consider how realistic your plans are. For example, organize the list of gifts not only with the things you have to buy, but also from what stores and the location of each store. This way you can group stores by area and save time during the shopping process. Start with the most important and finish with the minor. Allow time for yourself to do things that are important for you. Do not expect that you would do everything perfect, accept that you have limits, like the rest of the world.
4. Be realistic
First of all, try to have realistic expectations from the period of holidays. Not being able to meet the often-excessive expectations is what creates feelings of stress and depression.
5. Enjoy the holidays
Avoid putting all your energy and expectations on Christmas Day or on New Year’s Eve. Instead, try living and enjoying every day of the holidays. This will leave you with a much more holiday satisfaction.
6. Think positive
A bit of optimism and positive thinking is not harmful. For many people these days, coinciding with the change of the year is a period to re-evaluate their lives and set new goals for the New Year. It is not necessary to just focus on unfulfilled dreams and disappointments you had over the years. You can certainly recognize positive things you have done in the past, and you have to be optimistic for the future.
7. Do not exaggerate
Do not exaggerate the abuse of eating, drinking, spending. The negative consequences created from abuse will come to us the next few days, in our bodies and our mood. Although the period of holidays is associated primarily with a few more pleasures that we allow ourselves, the exaggerations come to add to the extra stress and guilt to the already intense days.
The fulfilment of our daily health habits on nutrition, physical activity and sleep helps dealing with the increased stress.
8. Watch your spending
Avoid excessive costs. If you are not sure that you can withstand the extra spending then do not spend more than you can afford. The existence of economic issues will intensify stress and depression. There are also other ways to feel the «spirit of the holidays», without spending.
9. Surprise your self
If you need a change, this year’s celebrations are an opportunity to do something that you have not done before. Surprise your self.
10. Spend the holidays with people that you love
Prefer to spend your time with people that you love and care. It is these people who will actually make you feel the “spirit of Christmas”
11. Avoid Tension
On the other hand, the long time you spend together with the family during the holidays, with the many different people and views, combined with stress can be a source of misunderstandings, conflicts and suffering. With this in mind, try to avoid tension. Aside your differences and seek for a more appropriate time to resolve them.
Relationships between people change and are transformed with time, for example, when children grow up and leave home, but also for many other reasons. Accept this reality and choose to channel your emotional energy on relationships that are really active. Do not feel obliged to keep ties that have been broken.
12. You are not the only one that is alone
To celebrate the holidays alone is certainly not the best for your psychological condition. But there are alternatives: if you are not invited to a celebration, you call someone (a friend, a relative) to celebrate together, recover contacts with friends or relatives that you have not seen a long time or voluntarily offer your help for charity events. This is also a good way to do new friends and it will also make you feel much better.
13. Grief if you have to
If you have recently experienced a serious loss, such as separation or death of a loved one, acknowledge to yourself the right and need to feel sorrow. The refusal of your emotions does not help. In this case, the grief is not only normal but is part of the process to overcome the loss.
14. Do not get carried away by TV
Try not to be affected by the enthusiastic atmosphere of television, by making comparisons of your life and what is shown in TV. The real life is never as rosy and happy as it is played on television.
15. Get some help from a specialist
If, however, you feel that you cannot cope alone the mental burdens of these days, do not hesitate to request the assistance of a specialist. The psychological problems may occur with greater intensity during the holidays due to their specific circumstances, it is not isolated from the overall context of our lives. They usually have their base in conditions that apply in everyday life and with such a prospect should be treated.