The holiday season can be a heartwarming, restful time marked by pausing the more hurried workplace pace to spend time with friends, family and loved ones. At the same time, it can be stressful when expectations and tense family dynamics add increased pressure. Regardless of which defines your holidays, taking some time to mentally prepare for the upcoming events can alleviate unnecessary stress of the season.
Even though Christmas is weeks away, start the planning now. Instead of going home and turning on the TV after work, start brainstorming gift ideas for friends and family. If you are in charge of the Christmas day meal, start the process by deciding when the best time for the meal will be, either lunch or dinner. Decide what to serve and delegate dishes for others to bring. Determine where family members will stay and what activities best fit your time together. Make a list of everything that needs to be done – both prior to and on Christmas Day – and schedule a checklist to complete each item.
Whenever a large group of people and personalities are involved – especially if that large group is family – expectations are typically high, and quite a few of them will inevitably not be met. The sooner you acknowledge and accept this, the less burdened you will be. Planning is good, but, during this season, let whatever happens, happen. You will enjoy yourself more. After all, the things that go wrong often make the best stories later.
Avoid offense to the opinions of others. Learn to value the person and let his or her opinion be just that: his or her opinion, not yours. Tactfully listening to what underlies emotions over policies or people and responding with dignity can often moderate an impending argument. Avoid stress fueled by anticipating what conversations may, or may not, take place. Choose your battles, and remember why you are grateful for people you do have in your life.
There is always something for which to be grateful. Preparations can be stressful; anticipated expectations can be stressful; interrupted routines, extra people, and extra work can be stressful. However, it is your privilege, your choice, to be grateful. Whether it be as simple as looking forward to a favorite dish or the fact that your family is only staying for a few days rather than two weeks, you can always find something for which to be grateful. Make a list. Recognize, note, and remember the many things in your life for which you are thankful. Don’t miss the magic gratitude can usher in for an enjoyable season.