Holiday Stress Busters
By Keryn Horwood, M.A., MFTI
The holidays can be an especially stressful time. The expectations are high, the demands unrelenting, and the pressure ever-building. When there seems to be no way to alleviate the pressure, a change in our outlook is the secret to making the holidays more than just an anxiety-inducing frenzy of greedy kids, visiting family members, and never-ending church activities.
Here are some holiday stress busters:
1. Your worth is not determined by what you do.
Let go of the idea of the perfect turkey, table setting, and gifts. They are not the measure of who you are. Focus on the bigger picture, not the small details that can go wrong.
2. You can’t keep everyone happy.
Your worth is also not determined by what you have or can give. Just keeping up with the gift the Joneses give you can cause stress. Your worth as a parent, spouse, or friend is not in the value of the gift, but in the value of the gift-giver.
3. Before the holidays, set realistic goals for an enjoyable season.
Maybe your goals include reconnecting with friends, staying on a budget, getting the Christmas cards out on time, family-focused holidays, or a simple goal of “less is more.” Write them down. Now, you will be able to respond to offers that move you toward fulfilling your goals of a rewarding season.
4. Accepting others as they are can be the biggest gift you give yourself.
Holidays can be stressful because we’re often with people who are difficult to be around. You don’t have to approve or like what your family members do. But you do need to show love and grace to them.
Dr. Minirth, a noted Christian psychiatrist, warns that this is also not the time to try and fix your family. You can have a personal goal of showing love and peace to a difficult family member, however. There are 364 other days of the year to address other problems.
5. Deal with criticism wisely.
Before you react, consider the source. Is the situation really going to matter in the long run? If the answer is “yes,” could this be an opportunity for learning?
Some people make comments to be hurtful, or to make themselves feel better about their shortcomings. They may also be unaware of how they present themselves. I tell my clients these people cannot be avoided, so be ready with an invisible Teflon shield. We can defend ourselves by not absorbing the comment, and simply letting it go.
One of the reasons we celebrate Christ’s birthday is to know His peace. We can choose how we are going to experience the holidays and take a positive attitude with us into it no matter what we face.