The holidays are upon us! With the pressure of decking the hall and giving thanks, for many of us the holidays are torture. Whether we are going through a recent loss due to death or divorce, or the thought of spending time with our family makes us want to head for the hills, the holidays can be very stressful. With the added pressure of looking and feeling jolly, the holidays can be outright torturous. Stress levels and emotions can run high, and our mental sanity can take a hit. Here are strategies to deal with holiday chaos and actually enjoy the season:
Have Realistic Expectations
If you are expecting absolute perfection, you will be let down. Prepare for the holiday vacation knowing that there is going to be some stress involved. Do not try to mimic the contrived “perfect” moments that you see on your friends Facebook pages. Know that they are under stress as well. Also, don’t inflate your expectations. If you don’t usually get along with your sister-in-law, don’t expect much different during the holidays.
Don’t Schedule Every Minute
Even though the holiday will most likely be hectic, find some quiet time for yourself so you can re-energize. This "catch your breath" time can come at any point during the day. Remember, it’s also a vacation. Instead of cramming in every holiday festivity, consider lightening up the calendar a little bit.
Hunt for Humor
The easiest way to get through the day with your sanity intact is to find humor in what your in-law says or does. Now, I realize that these gaffes may not necessarily inspire true guffaws--far from it!--but search hard for the humor anyway. This approach helps you create enough emotional distance that you won't take her words and actions so personally. And besides, you'll end up with some great stories to tell your friends about your wacky in-law.
Remember that the holidays are meant to be an enjoyable time with loved ones, not a torturous event. By having realistic expectations, practicing self-care, and taking things easy, you can enjoy the holiday season. How do YOU handle holiday stress?
Leana Sykes is a Relationship Counselor and the owner of Leana Sykes Relationship Counseling & Mediation in Oaklyn, NJ.