Holidays can quickly escalate into an endless list of tasks aimed at creating the perfect atmosphere – from searching for the perfect wrapping paper in the ideal shade of green to finding a fragile glass ornament in the precise color of blue to decorate the tree that you will proudly display in your home’s biggest window. You spend hours carefully wrapping gifts that you painstakingly chose for your friends and loved ones. Precious care is taken to display various holiday decorations in the yard. You want everyone to see the glowing array of colorful lights that will brilliantly shine in your windows at nightfall. You slave away in the kitchen, making everyone’s favorite holiday treats, but you somehow don’t have time to make your own.
Holiday Perfection Leads to Stress
All of these tasks of endless preparation can easily push someone into exhaustion if they are overdone. The rushing around to make sure that everything is to everyone’s liking is enough to make you crash and burn out.
If you start to panic over the wandering light strand that is slowly easing its way off the tree branches or the toppled inflatable snowman in the yard, you are at risk of burning out mentally, physically, and emotionally. On top of all the stressful situations you may experience in your everyday life, obsessively focusing on all these minute details as the holidays come around is a recipe for overload.
In your quest for perfection, you might forget the fact that you cannot please everyone all of the time. There is nothing wrong with trying to make the holidays a happy time for everyone involved. The problems occur when you scrutinize and fret over all the little imperfections that are bound to happen when you attempt to plan everything down to the last detail.
You may have a vision of what the perfect holiday should be like, and it may be hard to realize that it is an unrealistic goal with your busy schedule. When you cannot reach that towering height of holiday cheer, you may feel as if you have failed.
A Lesser-Recognized Cause of Holiday Stress
Even if someone is feeling down about something in their everyday life, people often feel obligated to wear the holiday mask of cheeriness and merriment.
Being single around the holidays only serves to magnify any loneliness you might feel. Conversely, being married means dealing with the in-laws, including feeling like you have to work extra hard to impress them.
Financial hardships, like loss of employment and emergency expenses do not take a vacation around this time of year. If anything, the feeling of having to spend money and incur extra bills only increases those difficulties.
Family gatherings at holidays may only serve as a reminder of someone you have lost and exacerbate or rekindle that grief.
Signs That You Are Too Stressed
Below, we’ve gathered some examples of ways that your body, mind, and other people may be telling you that you need to relax more this holiday season.
- Your spouse has fallen off the bed from all of your tossing and turning.
- Every Christmas carol you hear and every television commercial that comes on to remind you about the inevitable holiday season sends your stomach lurching around with nerves.
- Others are not-so-secretly referring to you as the Grinch or Scrooge because of your irritable and moody demeanor.
- That one glass of wine a day has turned into a bottle.
- The word “no” appears to have vanished entirely from your vocabulary. You feel obliged to commit to everything that is asked of you, even if you feel overwhelmed.
How to Prevent Holiday Stress
Luckily, there are some ways to prevent and manage the stress that comes along with holidays. Here are some ideas to help you relax and enjoy the season more yourself.
- Set a realistic budget. It may be easier said than done, but it is necessary for you to set a holiday spending budget. After all, you will still need money in your account to pay the light and heat bills long after the holidays pass.
- Forget about finding that perfect gift. There is always one person in our life who is never happy with what they are given. This has to be the origin of gift receipts. Let them worry about it. And release any hurt feelings over someone not liking your gift; it’s not a reflection of their feelings about you. Consider giving a monetary gift to a charitable organization in your loved one’s name. This will make both you and your loved ones feel good and help out the organization during the busy holiday season.
- Do not feel as if you have to be superman or superwoman. Guests will not leave in disgust if you forget to vacuum the hall carpet. In fact, they will probably not even notice because they will be too busy enjoying themselves to notice the dust bunnies.You are your own worst critic, and you are probably going to be the only one who notices that the cheese ball ran out before the end of the evening.
- Follow your usual routine as much as possible. Wake up and go to bed at the usual times before you entered into your holiday frenzy mode. Be sure to get enough exercise and drink plenty of water. Exhausting your body is a sure way to increase your stress and maybe even ensure that you’re sick by the time the big day rolls around.
- If you have had your fill of holiday parties, then take the time to volunteer. To truly see the meaning of the holiday season is to look into the eyes of someone less fortunate than you are.
- Do not over-schedule yourself or your family. Remember that you can still say no to all those people who are asking you to do too much in too little time. By making them aware that you have other priorities, you will remind yourself that peace of mind, serenity, and just comfortable companionship is a priceless gift that you can give to your family too.
- Remember your lost loved ones. If you feel depressed when the holiday season comes around, do not feel guilty. Give yourself room to be sad, and don’t put pressure on yourself to be cheerful or fully in the holiday spirit. Consider how you can celebrate the memory of your loved one with a new family tradition.
The Best Holiday Tip of All
Above all, the most important tip we have is to take care of you. The commercialism of the holidays can throw any one of us into a frenzy. If you guard yourself against stress, you can be assured that your holiday season will be everything you want it to be; for you and your loved ones.