The major holidays of the year come back to back, which is where we are right now. During Thanksgiving and Christmas, people spend the most time with relatives. But, as much as you might love your family, they can contribute to stress, on top of which you probably still have other things to take care of.
Holiday stress can be of two types: preparation stress and familial stress. Let’s start with preparation stress! What is the perfect holiday? If you know what it is, give me a call. Most people are still in search of it.
Begin to deal with holiday stress by telling yourself that the perfect holiday is the stuff of imagination. It doesn’t have to be like a Norman Rockwell painting. A perfect holiday is one where everyone survives, enjoys being together and feels a degree of happiness.
First we have the holiday meal on Thanksgiving followed by the present opening on Christmas morning and even the weather. When it falls short, especially if you’re worried about what everyone will think, you put yourself in the right frame to start feeling stressed. So what if your Mom or Aunt dropped the cake or burned the rolls! It’s not the end of the world. In fact, you could turn it into a funny story for next year.
Don’t spend too much time on the preparations. Murphy’s Law states that, if something is going to go wrong it will in all probability happen over the holidays. Spending the time to make the pumpkin pie from scratch only to find out that everyone wants Grandma’s sweet potato pie won’t make you very happy. It can also end up making your guests uncomfortable because they feel you worked so hard and now they’ve let you down.
Have a game plan. Enlist the aid of other family members so that all the prep work doesn’t fall on you. Decide whose house to have dinner at and when possible, rotate each holiday. Also determine if your family and/or friends will be staying in a hotel or at your home.
Familial stress occurs when difficult relatives come to visit or you visit them. Some people are just picky. They want everything just so or they are not satisfied. Before responding to snide comments about your food or the state of your home, take a deep breath. The person with the problem is your relative, not you. Don’t go into defense mode, this just makes things more uncomfortable for everyone and sometimes can start arguments.
During holiday time people tend to take every remark personally. Any delays are a deliberate attempt by the powers that be to ruin your fun. Neither is true and stress sets in if you begin to believe that they are. If you are the kind of person who is easily offended, let another family member host the holiday dinner.
Another way to fend of stress at the holiday season is to open the floor for suggestions. When people are complaining about food, accommodations and activities, ask them to offer alternatives to your ideas. We all make plans that we think will satisfy others but that doesn’t always happen.
Holidays are about family time and remembering why you are truly thankful. It is hard to think about the good times if you are stressed out of your mind. Turn down the stress by letting go of preconceived notions of the perfect holiday, just let go and allow it to be a time of joy.