In this episode Joanne discusses how to survive the Festive Season. She shares strategies for dealing with holiday stress so that you can really enjoy your time together with friends, family and loved ones whilst having a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
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*This podcast does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and its contents are intended for informational purposes only.
Welcome to Episode Fourteen of our Full Spectrum Wellness Podcast. I'm so happy and excited to be back here with you for our fourteen episode and second to last episode of the year.
As we head into Christmas week I wanted to talk about holiday stress. I’ve spoken to lots of clients in the last few weeks who have experienced stress, break downs in communications with partners and financial worries, not surprising with what’s going on in the world right now.
Battling and overcoming stress during the holidays can be a challenge to anyone and there are a number of things that can lead to this type of stress, family gatherings, coping with loss, busy shops, long queues, gift buying and conflicts to name but a few.
You may also have high expectations that add to the stress of your holiday season. Long gone are the days in which the season was highly anticipated and there was a sense of magic in the air. As an adult, you may find the season to be more stressful than joyous. Unfortunately, these days, you may even consider holiday stress as a necessary holiday tradition!
In addition to your typical schedule of work, home and kids, you've got more shopping to do, menus to plan, and food to prepare.
So I want to share with you some methods you can use to battle and overcome stress during the holidays:
1. Acknowledge that everything doesn't need to be perfect. The adverts on the radio and Tv during the holidays really miss the mark when it comes to realistic portrayals of family holidays.
2. Start holiday planning and preparations earlier. Can you imagine how much less stressed you'd feel if you had all your gift shopping and wrapping done in October?
3. Scale down your holiday plans. Because adults sometimes have an overly idealistic view of the holidays that springs from their childhood experiences, this strategy can be tough to do. Scaling down your plans involves letting go of your "perfect dream" for the holidays.
4. Are you overcommitted? The holidays normally come with many social gatherings that most of us feel we must attend. The fact is that you don’t have to go to every event you’re invited to.
It’s important to remember and enjoy the spirit of the holidays. If it takes saying “no” to preserve some of your sanity, go for it! Others will be more understanding than you give them credit for.
5. Carrying on traditions. Growing up, we may have seen our mothers cook a full course Christmas dinner. Perhaps it was routine to host a lavish holiday party. Maybe your family baked hundreds of Christmas cookies to give to friends and relatives.
If you find that the routine you normally follow for the pure and simple sake of tradition is weighing on you and resulting in more stress than you can deal with, break away from it! You will be happier when you’re free from this stress.
6. Finding the perfect gift. There’s so much pressure to purchase the perfect gift for each person that it takes all the fun out of shopping. Remember, people are generally appreciative for whatever gift they receive. They don’t expect you to go to every corner of the Earth to find them a spectacular gift.
7. Take shortcuts to save time. Figure out easier ways to do things that will provide more time for other holiday tasks and activities.
8. Choose what you want to do. Ponder what the holidays truly mean to you and then express that meaning in your celebrations. Avoid getting caught up in the commercialism that has taken over the entire holiday season.
The best way to teach your children that the holidays are about giving to others is to take them to visit local charities or even to serve meals at a church soup kitchen.
As you can see, there are several effective ways to battle and overcome stress during the holidays. The key is to determine what’s causing your stress so you can eliminate it.In the end, you’ll see that most of the stress you experience is a result of the expectations you pose on yourself.
In terms of relationships I often hear from clients that the holidays are always stressful in their family. They have children and large, demanding extended families. They feel torn in a million directions during the holidays and feel like their relationship suffers the most during the holiday season.
These couples report barely spend time with each other. They are always fighting and arguing and have a hard time figuring out their plans.
So if I just described you, what can you do to make the holidays easier on your relationship?
Firstly, it’s important to realise that stress increases for many families during the holidays. It’s easy to get caught up in all the demands of the holidays. You have less time to focus on each other and your relationship.
You can alleviate some of the holiday stress by identifying the root cause of the stress and working to resolve those challenges.
Is a specific family member causing issues? Do you both argue too much about presents for the kids? What is causing most of the stress during the holidays?
Once you have identified the root cause of the stress, it’s easier to find ways to deal with it together.
In addition, setting expectations before the holidays start can help.
For example, create a list of things you both want to accomplish during the holidays. Then, divide the list, so each person has a fair share of tasks.
Stick to your list, so you’ll always know what to expect during the holidays and can avoid unpleasant surprises.
Couples often have disagreements about which in-laws they should visit during the holidays. This is also a source of significant stress in many marriages and the starting point of many arguments.
You have several options for handling family visits during the holidays:
Whatever option you choose, it’s important that both you and your spouse or partner are comfortable with it and don’t waver from it. It’s crucial to put up a united front that won’t be swayed by either set of parents.
This may cause some strife in the beginning, especially if you choose to stay home or ask them to come see you. They may not be used to you pushing back and saying no. However, it can strengthen your relationship and alleviate stress when you set clear boundaries with both sides of the family.
To further reduce stress during the holidays and improve your relationship. Consider setting aside time to be with your spouse or partner. Pick one or two days on the calendar during the holiday season and make them date nights. This means the children aren’t allowed, and you can focus only on each other.
1. Find a way to stay connected with them throughout the holidays. Whether you send each other sweet text messages or leave behind loving sticky notes in each other’s lunches, find a way to keep the love going.
2. Make your holiday plans clear, but stay flexible. The holidays are a source of stress for many couples. It’s important to have a plan. However, even the best plans can fall apart. Try to stay flexible throughout the holiday season.
Create your own couple ritual for the holidays.
So remember, put the “jolly” back in your holidays and create cherished holiday memories
If you have to travel over the holiday remember to
Here is a little Meditation for Holiday Travel
This year, make the decision to reduce your holiday stress. By shedding the urge to be perfect, beginning holiday planning earlier, scaling down expectations, and using shortcuts to save time, you'll bring your tension level way down.
Think about what you really want the holidays to mean to you and your family. Then, you can let go of expectations based on the past and really enjoy your time together. And ultimately, isn't that what the holidays are for?
And I say this every year to clients who are struggling with holiday stress, “It’s just one day, or a couple of days and it happens every year!”
Have a wonderful Christmas and a very Happy New Year, much love from me and a massive thank you for supporting this podcast and listening to me this year.