For some people, the holidays are a fun time of the year filled with good food, shopping, gifting, traveling and getting together with friends and family. For other people, the holidays are a dreaded time filled with family disputes, remembering past losses, depression, stress, and unwanted financial pressures. For most of us, however, the holidays are filled with a little bit of both ends of the spectrum and a little bit of everything else thrown in. No matter what you do for the holidays, here are some tips you can use to not only get through this time, but get through it with peace, good will, and joy.
1. Be grateful. We all have that highly opinionated family member or that friend who seems to always wear the wrong sweater to the Christmas party. Whatever the case, take a minute to think about all you have in life — the good, the bad, and the in between. Reflect on the fact that you are blessed to see another holiday season and be grateful that you can experience it with those closest to you.
2. Create a budget. Shopping for the perfect gifts and holiday clothes can all add up very quickly, and before you know it, you’ve spent way more than you intended. So before you shop, create a budget and stick to it no matter what. Plan what you are going to buy before leaving home and avoid the urge to shop on impulse. Planning and sticking to a budget now will ensure you have no financial headaches after the holidays are over.
3. Prioritize your activities. It can be easy to attempt to jam events and people together in order to try to fit everything in before the holidays end. Don’t allow yourself to fall into that trap because you and others will end up with hurt feelings and more stress than you can handle. Know what is important and what is not important to you. Determine what will help you and those you love experience the best holiday season possible with little to no stress and pressure.
4. Laugh. Sometimes in life, there is only one thing you can do when things don’t go as planned, and that is, laugh it off. Don’t take everything so seriously. “Laughter does good like medicine.” Sometimes, what we consider to be an egregious act, might not be all that bad in the end. So lighten things up, make the best of seemingly bad situations, and enjoy the holiday spirit.
5. Say a prayer. Prayer is a great stress-reducer. If you talk to God about your holiday plans, He will give you strength to deal with the most difficult family members and pull through the most uncomfortable get-togethers. Prayer is always available to us even for the most trivial of matters. After all, don’t we all want Someone we can talk to about the little things and who can actually do something about them.
6. Don’t expect perfection. Perfection is an illusion. No matter how well-laid your plans are, everything is not going to be perfect. And if you wait for it to be perfect, you will be waiting forever. The thing is to do your best, put your best foot forward — your best planning, your best dress, your best food, your best compliments, and your best attitude. In the end, your best is as close to perfection as you will ever get.
7. Get help when you need it. We all need help every now and then. We’re only one person, and we can only do what we can do. Whether it’s planning, preparing, decorating, cleaning or just someone to talk to who can smooth things over, ask family and friends for help when you need it. If you’ve lost a family or friend and the holidays are especially difficult for you, get help from a professional counselor or someone you trust.
8. Don’t hurt your health. Overindulgence during the holiday season will only add to your stress. Don’t go overboard and allow this time to become a wild, all-you-can-eat, free-for-the-taking buffet. Limit your alcohol consumption. Get plenty of rest. Step away from all the activity and take a breather. Keep to your daily exercise regime, if you have one, or simply take a short walk to clear your mind. Eat healthy snacks so you don’t kill it on sweets and drinks. When the holidays are over, your body will thank you for it.
9. Be careful of how you act and react. If we are honest, we generally already know where the tough spots are in our family, our friend group, or among co-workers. This means that we are already aware of what kind of attitudes we’ll encounter, whose going to say or not say what, and so forth. With this knowledge, we can plan ahead of time how we are and are not going to act and react in certain situations. This way, we are not surprised or caught off guard when someone does something we don’t particularly like or cracks a joke that doesn’t go over well.
10. Give a helping hand and have a servant’s heart. You don’t have to feel lonely or be alone to offer support to someone else or to reach out and volunteer during the holidays. Even if you have a house full of family and friends, and enough activities to keep you busy for days, take a moment and give some of your time, talents, and resources to someone who can use it. Giving not only reduces stress by getting our minds off of ourselves, but it lifts our spirits, expands our relationships, and always puts a smile on someone else’s face. In the end, we are all more blessed than we realize.