As that timeless song goes, the holidays are supposed to be “the most wonderful time of the year.” While that can be true, the months of November and December can also cause a significant amount of undue stress for a lot of people.
We put pressure on ourselves to make the holidays picture perfect, wanting to give every member of the family a thoughtful gift and turn each meal into a Pinterest-worthy, three-course feast. While it’s nice to give fitting gifts, and the holidays are a great opportunity to celebrate, in reality, trying to make everything perfect creates unnecessary stress that ultimately takes away from the reason we’re observing the holiday in the first place.
Over the years, I’ve come to learn that it’s important to distinguish that the holidays are not necessarily about presents, but about your presence with your loved ones.
Here are a few of my tips for making the most of the season and avoiding those common holiday stressors:
Even though the weeks surrounding holidays, and the days themselves, are busy, it’s important to take time for yourself. Self-care can look different for everyone, but scheduling something like a massage, haircut, or manicure now can give you something to look forward to when days get crazy.
An important part of self-care is maintaining your routine. Our bodies like routine because it makes us feel comfortable, which can actually help us accomplish more. If you exercise regularly throughout the year, continue to make that time a priority throughout the holidays. Try to get enough sleep and go to bed and wake up at similar times to your normal schedule.
Moderation is also an important part of taking care of yourself during the holidays. It’s easy to overindulge on treats, especially if you are going to more parties and social gatherings than normal. Eating in moderation will help you to enjoy what you eat more, and to take care of your body.
Be proactive in planning these times and activities so you can alleviate some last-minute stress. You need to rest and recharge so that you can be fully present while you are with loved ones.
The holidays are a great opportunity to give time and effort back to the community. Look for a local charity or event that your family could volunteer at as a group, or cook a meal as a family and deliver it to another family in need.
Quality time with family
Last year, my husband and I resolved to enjoy the season and live in the moment, and before we knew it, the holidays blew past. Make a commitment to enjoy being in the moment, and carve out quality time with loved ones ahead of time so you don’t have to throw plans together at the last minute.
I know that for some families, increased time with family during the holidays can also create conflict between family members. Family relationships can be hard, so it may be helpful to have a plan to leave or step away if you’re feeling pressured or uncomfortable.
If you’re already feeling the squeeze from this season, call to schedule an appointment, and we can help you prepare for the upcoming holidays.
— Sonya Ruedlinger, MSN, APRN, FNP-C, PMHNP-BC