“Happy holidays” – it almost slips out as automatically as “how are you – fine thanks”. But the holidays are not always happy for everyone.
This season of “cheer” and “merriment” and “joy”can leave some feeling like the outcast if they’re feeling down, blue, depressed, angry, anxious, stressed out, or burnt out. As much as we may enjoy aspects of the holiday season – spending time with family, giving or receiving gifts – there are many aspects that can cause less than joyous feelings.
It is OK to experience any of the following:
- Stress about juggling responsibilities/events
- Stress about “perfectionism”
- Financial stress
- Toxic relatives
- Bringing up unhappy memories
- Having to “fake” happiness/cheer
Managing stress over holidays is really about managing expectations. We can put a large burden of expectations on ourselves – to get the perfect presents, prepare the flawless meal, decorate your home perfectly, be the perfect host, and attend all holiday functions with a smile.
To manage these expectations, start by being realistic. Be aware of your priorities and don’t be afraid to say NO. For example, if you have an event every day of the week and you and your family (kids, spouse, etc) are getting tired and cranky, pick the party that is the least important to and tell them you can’t make it. And instead stay home with the kids building snowmen and watching holiday movies.
Our need to be perfect is what often causes us stress. Remember that we don’t need to strive for perfection. Our happiness and peace of mind is more important than what others think of us. By not overextending yourself, you can be calm and enjoy a few important events, instead of stressing yourself and being angry, stressed and resentful at all the events.
Feelings of sadness are not unusual during the holiday season. It may be because of some unhappy memories associated with the holidays. Or pressure to be around some relatives who you don’t get along with or who you don’t like. Many of us can feel quite lonely over the holidays. And a lot of us feel the need to pretend to always be happy and cheerful.
The key here is to just be honest with yourself and your feelings. Once you can acknowledge how you feel, you can then figure out the next step, whether it’s excusing yourself from a dinner with toxic relatives, or just having a good little cry because you are feeling sad and lonely.
Just remember that the more you try to push these feelings aside, the more resentful you will feel.
Make ME Time
A lot of people feel stressed around the holidays because they can be very busy. You get time off work and you feel more stressed at home than you did at work. There are just too many things to do. Balance your busy time with your ME time or you will start to feel resentful.
Whether it’s hitting the gym, going to a yoga class, reading a book, or just taking a nap. Don’t forget to make time for yourself.
So this holiday season, choose to give yourself the gift of self-love, self-kindness, self-appreciation, and self-understanding. Don’t over-extend yourself or try to do more than you can or want to do. The only one who cares if you are perfect is you. Instead, only do the things that will bring you fulfillment, satisfaction, motivation, or happiness. Focus on true “joy” this season.
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Article Written By: Jaty Tam ND. Dr. Jaty is a licensed Naturopathic Doctor in Toronto and the Medical Director and Co-Founder of Well Street Health. Driven by her passion for health education, and her desire to bring wellness principles to the corporate world (in which she spent many years before becoming a Naturopathic Doctor), Dr. Jaty, continues to inspire audiences and build innovative corporate wellness programs that cultivate winning wellness cultures.
Looking for ways to spark up your corporate wellness culture? Check out Dr. Jaty’s Keynote Speaking on trending health topics.