The holiday season is supposed to be fun and festive but it can also be exhausting and stressful. There’s a lot to plan and organise, shopping and holiday crowds are out of control, personalities can clash and it’s easy to spend way more money than you’d like. To keep your cool over the holidays, try these five ideas to help you stress less.
1. Manage your expectations
Sometimes we create an image in our mind of how we’d like things to be and feel upset when they don’t turn out as perfectly as we’d hoped. Maybe the food gets burned, you don’t get to spend as much time with people as you’d like or people don’t appreciate the effort you’ve made. Some people place a lot more or less significance on certain holiday rituals so if you’re spending time with people outside your own family, it can be difficult adapting to their way of doing things. There are lots of things you can’t control but one thing you can control is how much you let those things affect you. It’s ok to feel disappointed, but try not to let it spoil all the things that are available to be appreciated and enjoyed.
2. Learn to say no
There are usually lots of parties and events on at this time of year and sometimes it can feel like you’re out every night. Remember, it’s okay to say no if you’re feeling tired and overwhelmed. If you say yes when you really want to say no, you’re only going to feel resentful and deplete your energy so that you’re less able to enjoy other events that you might be more interested in. When it comes to spending time with family including stepfamilies, in-laws, and extended family, be clear about what you can manage and prioritise your own needs. It’s ok to set boundaries for the sake of your mental wellbeing.
3. Set a budget
There’s no question this can be an expensive time of year. Have an honest look at what you can afford to spend on gifts and try to not go over it. If you have lots of people to buy for and you’re a struggling student or on a low wage, maybe consider options that don’t require you to buy something for everyone such as pulling names out of a hat and buying for one person only. If that’s not an option consider making gifts (great homemade gift ideas on Tiffxo’s program!) or offering your services (like babysitting) in lieu of a gift. Don’t spend money you don’t have just to keep up appearances. The last thing you need is to start the New Year with a big debt to pay off.
4. Take a breather
It’s a frantic time of year with lots to organise, plan and do. Remember to take some time out for yourself occasionally and give yourself the opportunity to recharge your batteries. You might meditate with one of Tiffxo’s meditations, take a nap or do something relaxing like watch a movie, read a book or just sit in the sunshine and drink tea. You may think you’re too busy but by taking regular breaks, you’ll renew your energy so you get more done and you’ll have a whole lot more patience for handling difficult people and situations.
5. Practise gratitude
When your nerves are frayed and everyone seems a little bit crankier than usual, taking a moment to count your blessings can be just the thing to help you keep things in perspective and shift your mood back to one that’s more positive. Irritations with people and crowds, disappointment when things don’t go to plan or running up your credit card are all stressful but they’re also the very definition of first world problems. Perhaps take the time to give to a cause or charity or just spend a moment remembering how lucky you really are.
By Cass Dunn, psychologist for TIFFXO.COM