Christmas lights decorate the outside of a nice suburban home while a light snowfalls with snowflakes the size of quarters. Through the window, you see a roaring fireplace with that warm orange glow. Grandpa is watching football, kids are playing on the floor smiling and getting along while everyone else is eating the big Christmas dinner leftovers.
At least according to a holiday movie. But the reality is often a lot more complicated. Family relationships get messy if not downright combative. Sometimes grandpa isn't watching T.V. because this is the first Christmas since he passed away. Other times there is just nobody around and instead of connection, all you have is the feeling of loneliness.
Holidays can be anything other than happy and there are lots of things that can get in the way of finding a little bit of rest and peace on earth. Instead of gifts and warm smiles we just get left with a mountain of shoulds, missed opportunities, and guilt.
What can you do to manage the never-ending list of things and people that end up on your calendar over these next couple of months? Here are some tips to help you have a happier holiday
Say “No” more often - Learn to say no. Overextending your time and effort means you might end up spending more time doing things that take away from your own goals for the holidays. Doing less can mean more time to enjoy the things that are important to you!
Accept what you cannot change - Sometimes being uncomfortable is unavoidable. In those situations, you can either focus your attention on the discomfort or you can accept the things you cannot change and open up your possibilities on how to respond. You might not be in control of the guestlist at your parents' holiday party but you can accept that people you do not get along with maybe there but that you can control how you react to them.
Drink Less - One more Eggnog might mean that Aunt Cathy is a bit less grating but alcohol can limit your choices and change your mood in ways outside of your control. More control means you are in the driver's seat of your holiday.
Distract Yourself - Distraction can be a wonderful strategy for distress. Find something that you enjoy in the middle of the stress. This can be good self-care like a run or a nice bath. Or it can mean focusing on the Christmas Story playing in the living room to avoid a stressful conversation.
Don't overextend yourself- The holidays aren't all about buying the most expensive gifts, it's about spending time with loved ones. Yes, during the holidays this can be more complicated and stressful but overextending may add on to that pressure.
There are so many more strategies to help with the stress of the holidays from setting boundaries to managing emotional stress. At Chesterfield Counseling Associates we believe your holidays can be better. Join Tim and Morgan on December 4th from 9am-12:30 to learn about how to make your holidays just a little merrier. You can sign up by emailing email@example.com or going to our website page for workshops.