The holiday season is here, and for most that means spending quality time with family, friends and loved ones. But for some, this time of year also comes with a lot of stress (hosting folks from out of town, dealing with family drama, etc.). In fact, according to a survey by the American Psychological Association, 38% of people feel their stress levels increase during the holiday season. Luckily, Monarch Nurse Practitioner Dr. Debbie Granick has some tips for coping.
Lower your expectations
Granick suggests that in those moments of disappointment, ask yourself if the moment itself is bad or if it’s only bad because you expected something else. “A teen heading out with friends instead of languishing at the dinner table with grandparents isn’t necessarily bad, it’s only bad in comparison to the vision in your head of the extended family playing cards together all night,” she says. “Take a breath. Remind yourself that fighting about it will make it worse. Bid her farewell and nestle in to enjoy the family who is here instead of fuming about who isn’t.”
Prepare less, enjoy more
All that time spent preparing is bound to be unrecognized and unrewarded, with the potential to plunge you into a bad mood—or even worse, an ugly tantrum. So cut back on your to-do list. “Do only what you most need and want to feel festive and not a drop more,” Granick suggests. “No cleaning out coat closets when you can toss coats on the bed. Don’t clean the carpets; people won’t notice. Relax and enjoy your own party.” Odds are, they’re so thrilled to not be hosting at their own house that they will be very accepting of yours!
Carve out a little time for yourself
You only see these folks once a year, so you feel obligated to spend every moment together, but the truth is, you don’t have to. Allow yourself to recharge, take a walk or a long shower. That one hour to yourself will make all that togetherness more tolerable.
Stop trying to please everyone
That mother-in-law or aunt who never seems satisfied will never be satisfied—so stop trying. We waste valuable energy on the few friends or family members who are high maintenance and unhappy. Hold back. Let them figure out how to make the holidays work for them. If they’re not happy, there was nothing lost. They weren’t going to be happy anyway and at least they didn’t bring you down with them.