How To Manage Your Holiday Stress
Are you plagued by holiday stress year after year? Do you
feel as if you are a victim in all of this? Do you believe
that you are the ONLY one in your household who is contributing
to the success of the holiday? Let me share with you some
ideas for making the holidays manageable.
I used to literally make myself nuts during holiday time.
I was married to a man who thought his contribution to the
holiday was simply to show up, eat his fill and then watch
television in the living room while I cleaned up the kitchen.
I also had two sons who couldn't care less about the trimmings
of the holiday season.
What I am about to suggest may offend your sensibilities but
it does stand a good chance of greatly reducing your holiday
stress. When you are finished with this article, you'll have
to decide what is most important to you---having everything
just perfect or regaining some of your sanity. When all is
said and done, you can always continue to do it just as you've
always done. I'm only providing some alternative suggestions.
What is your typical routine? Of course, for me there was
mailing of at least 100 Christmas cards. Often this was the
only way I was able to stay in touch with people I cared about.
Then there was the gift buying. I married into a family where
I instantly inherited 20 nieces and nephews and the family
insisted that all children receive a gift from all the aunts
and uncles until they reached the age of 25! No matter what
I said, they were not going to be swayed from their position.
Christmas shopping, for me, was a chore.
Then, after the gifts were purchased, there were the many
hours of gift-wrapping that was required. And what about putting
up the Christmas tree and decorating the rest of the house?
Let's not forget the cleaning that had to be done to make
my house presentable for the drop-in holiday visitors. There
was also the baking of the many multiple varieties of cookies
and the preparation of whatever food I was expected to bring
to any myriad of places to which we were invited for holiday
party after holiday party. Add to that the stress of the inevitable
weight gain over the holidays and it was no wonder I was crabby
Once I began to practice Inside Out Living, I had to
question the sanity of all the rituals in which I engaged
myself. The first question I asked was, "How many things am
I doing because I believe I have to and how many are for my
pleasure and the pleasure of my family?"
I remember one particular Christmas when I was feeling especially
stressed, I told my children I either needed help with holiday
preparations or I needed to cut some things out of the holiday
routine. They made it clear they didn't really want to help
in reducing the load of things that I put on myself but they
were more than willing to forego many holiday traditions.
In fact, what they told me is that we didn't need a tree.
All they cared about was presents and they didn't even need
them to be wrapped!
That was eye opening for me. Now it was clear that anything
beyond gifts was something I was choosing to do and not something
that was necessary to the success of the holiday for my children.
Next, I had to assess what was necessary for me. I decided
I wanted to send Christmas cards to stay in touch with friends
and family and I wanted to wrap my children's gifts so I could
enjoy the expressions of surprise and pleasure on their faces
as they opened their gifts.
That particular Christmas, I discovered the joy of sending
out New Year's cards. That's right. I stopped pressuring myself
to get the cards out before Christmas. After all, the purpose
was to keep in touch with people. It turned out to be much
better to send my card in January. It definitely stood out
from the rest!
I didn't put up a tree. My children really didn't care if
we had one or not. Neither did I. Great stress reducer.
I also gave up the idea that everyone in the home SHOULD contribute
to the work involved in the holidays. In demanding assistance
from unwilling family members, the only thing I accomplished
was to alienate the people I loved the most. The whole holiday
hype was not important to them. If it were, they would have
more willingly provided the assistance for which I asked.
In shopping for the nieces and nephews, I discovered the value
of gift cards. The kids love them because they can pick out
whatever they want and they protect them from getting those
unwanted, unappreciated gifts from an aunt or uncle who really
doesn't know them well enough to purchase a gift they would
Another suggestion, particularly if you have older children,
is to take the money you would normally spend on gifts and
find a family who needs it more than you and purchase gifts
for another family as part of your new Christmas ritual.
As for the cookies, I stopped making 27 different varieties
and only made chocolate chip cookies---the family's favorite.
They were always a hit and no one really the liked the others
And as for the weight gain, there are two possible solutions.
Approach the holidays with reckless abandon. Know that you
will gain weight and that you will address it in January.
The other option is to take control of your eating. Eat smaller
portions and taste, instead of devour, any of the many sweets
offered during holiday parties.
Kim Olver has a degree in counseling, is a certified
and licensed counselor. She is a certified reality therapy
instructor. Kim is an expert in relationship, parenting and
personal empowerment, working with individuals who want to
gain more effective control of their lives and relationships.