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Family Matters

Tips for Staying Sane this Holiday Season

In theory, the holiday season is meant to be a joyous one. Filled with love, celebration, delicious food and loved ones. We idealize this time of year, and when things become a little less than jolly (Aunt Sue is wondering why you can’t find a man — for the 100th time) and other family matters, we tend to lose it. 

Let’s be honest, despite it being a wonderful time of year, it can also be a time of high stress for many. Aside from the increase in cookie consumption (who keeps replenishing that cookie tray all day?!), many of us find the holidays an especially challenging time when dealing with lots of family gatherings. Whether you’re entertaining the family for an evening or going to the parents for a week-long holiday hibernation, there is bound to be some family drama mixed in between the appetizers and turkey.

With a little preparation, some quick tricks and a willingness to shift your perspective, this holiday can be one with minimal stress and a whole lot of family joy! 

Following are our favourite tips when it comes to reducing stress over the holidays … especially when it comes to the stress that tends to be tied to family overload. 

SET YOUR INTENTION. Before the holidays are in full swing, take a moment to clearly think about how you want them to unfold. This is different from simply idealizing the perfect holiday and thinking it can’t be anything but. Instead, shift your perspective, pause, and envision how you would like to feel during this time. Keep this in mind, especially during stress-inducing family encounters.

PLAN AHEAD. It may seem silly, but being organised can dramatically reduce stress. Although there will always be unexpected turns in the road (hello life!), if you do your best to map out your dinner dates, where you’re going, who’s bringing what, as well as gifts — then you are one step ahead of letting the ‘holiday overwhelm’ take you under. 

LET GO. Often the holidays can bring up a lot of past feelings or feuds. The whole family under the same roof for the first time all year? What better time to discuss that argument from 5 years ago! Take a deep breath and let go of past things you cannot change, at least for this short time together. Focus on what matters instead — being surrounded by people who truly care about you, grudge or not. 

GO EASY ON THE EGGNOG. It may seem like the perfect situation to down another spiked eggnog to dilute tension, but bear in mind this will only end up in more drama. 

TAKE CARE OF YOU. It’s easy to forget taking care of ourselves in throws of the holidays, especially when they are doused with indulgent treats, travel and giving to others. Making sure you still make time for things that keep you sane is crucial for a stress-free holiday. This is the perfect time of year to catch up on your sleep, go for a morning jog or walk to get you feeling energised. Whatever makes you feel well and happy, try and still honour that — it will pay off come busy family dinners. 

ASK FOR HELP (and offer it too). The holidays are not a time to play superman. Hosting the whole family for a festive dinner? Go potluck style instead and have everyone bring their favourite dish. People love to offer a hand and feel that they contribute. Allowing everyone to pitch in will ease the work and thus the drama.

EMBRACE IMPERFECTION. Nothing will be perfect, especially if you try to make it so. Instead, embrace what is. Perfection is unrealistic, especially when placed upon others you have no control over. Once you allow for things to be a bit wonky, you may in fact ease the unnecessary tension and simply enjoy. 

TAKE A TIME-OUT. Schedule breaks. When things get heated or your mother starts questioning your decisions this year … take time out! Leave the room before you get overly stressed. Take a quiet moment alone — whether that’s simply to take 10 deep belly breaths, go for a quiet walk, sit elsewhere to read or even do that errand you’ve been ‘meaning to do’. Even just a few moments can mitigate an unnecessary argument.

MOVE MORE. Don’t ditch the exercise just because everyone else is. Getting your sweat on will help release built up stress and tension while also improving your mood. Its a win-win for both parties really! 

EXPRESS GRATITUDE. The simple notion of being grateful can really change your experience. Forget about the pie burning in the oven, the kids screaming and the Aunt you don’t get along with. Focus on what’s good and what you’re grateful for. If you find yourself in a moment of crazy, take a moment and say aloud what it is you’re grateful for. It can also be a great way to mix up the usual dinner chat and focus on the bigger picture!

Above all else, enjoy yourself! It may be a stressful time of year, but by taking action, you can in fact turn unnecessary stress into gratitude and enjoyment. Go with the flow, take a deep breath and set your intention for a wonderful holiday season this year.

We want to know … What’s your tactic for dealing with holiday stress? Share with us below!