If you don’t think the holidays are stressful, consider yourself lucky. On top of the weather change, dealing with end-of-the-year projects at work, and searching to find the perfect gift for your bff, there's the extra added pressure to keep it all together in front of the ones who expect you to the most: family.
My family is huge and from an early age, we were taught to place nothing before family. Christmas and the weeks leading up to it are filled with memories of togetherness. But the extra closeness is nothing new for us, as we spend probably just as much time with each other anyway. The difference this time of year is the pressure to act as like everything is totally fine, you’re not stressed at all, and are cheery all of the time. ‘Tis the season, right?
Maybe there's something about the threat of getting coal under the tree that makes us put up a front. Or the fact that a majority of holiday movies out there portray a joyful and stress-free family life. There’s also the added possibility of this year being stressful for your family due to some individuals being extra loud about their political beliefs...
Whatever your reason for holiday stress may be, you can get through this! For me, I’m trying to be more authentic in every part of my being--and that includes not faking happiness when I really am just a ball of anxiety. Here are a couple of more helpful tips on how to get through holiday craziness with your fam:
- Reconsider your obligations. If attending an event is going to really ruin your whole week, send the host a card and some wine instead of making an appearance. Don’t do the things that make you miserable.
- Take care of yourself. In addition to having obligations to everyone else, you still have an even bigger obligation to yourself. Listen to what your body wants, rest when you need to and make sure take some time alone. When you feel recharged, you’ll be able to enjoy the festivities.
- When it comes to talking about politics at the dinner table, I am a big believer in saying your piece respectfully and leaving it at that. A huge argument isn’t going to do anyone any good, but I never want to stay quiet for what I believe in.
- Do the things that make you feel good! Donate your time or money to charities and those who need it, say “I love you” to those who you hold close, and eat the cookie -- it’s going to be okay.
- If all else fails, just prepare the best you can. Bring a friend who you find comfort in, pour them a glass of wine and plan an exit strategy.
The holidays can be draining but its just a tiny part of your whole year. Take it easy, be honest with what makes you feel happy and fulfilled, and try to smile for the annual family photo. Happy holidays!
Photo by: Meghan Kay Sadler