*I originally posted this blog in 2018. So much has changed this then, however, these tips still apply.
Well, it's that time again. The holidays are among us. Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, etc. A time for family get-togethers, celebrations, etc. You may enjoy this time. It may bring you happiness, joy, excitement, and lots of laughter. This time may also bring you stress, anxiety, depression or anger. Getting together with family, hosting, planning, cleaning, running errands, and shopping, can make the entire process stressful for you. You may start having anxiety weeks before the holidays begin. You may have physical symptoms (stomach aches, headaches, cold sweats, heart palpitations). You may not be able to sleep and you constantly think things may go wrong. By the time the holidays are here, you can barely enjoy them.
Well, this year can be different. You can take control of your emotions during the holiday. You don’t have to feel stressed out if follow these tips. ,
This is not television or the movies. Things do not have to be perfect. The turkey, the stuffing, the china, the house, etc. You work long hours, you have kids, elderly parents, you commute and have a household to take care of. Who has the luxury of taking time off to prepare for holidays? I’m sure you don’t. Who has the luxury of taking time off to prepare for your family drama? You are not perfect, so stop acting like you are.
Who cares if the laundry isn’t done, the shelves aren’t dust-free or you decide to use paper plates when you serve Thanksgiving dinner? In the grand scheme of things, are these things important? Or is the important part of the holidays enjoying family and friends, watching your kids play, watching a good football game or taking a nap? If you want to use paper plates, go for it. If you want to have Thanksgiving catered, go for it. If you want to skip the rug cleaning and just vacuum, go for it. If you want to skip the family drama and head over to a friend’s house instead, go for it. You don’t have to keep doing the same thing over and over again, just to make everyone else happy and the holidays “perfect.” Save yourself anxiety, stress and headaches, by doing the best you can and embrace imperfection.
Have a Holiday Homie aka Text Buddy
Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone to vent to who wasn’t in your home during the holiday celebrations? Someone who could help calm you down with just a few words? Someone that could tell you it will be okay? Find that person!! Tell them ahead of time that you might need them for support when you are stressed and anxious. Choose someone that already knows your situation and stressors. Someone who knows you and your mother-in-law don’t get along. Someone that knows Uncle Bob drinks too much which leads to bad jokes or fights. Someone who knows your mother will criticize your cooking. Find that person. Find your Holiday Homie.
Own Your Emotions, No One Else’s
As you know, your relatives can get on your nerves, stress you out, and piss you off. There is no sugarcoating it. It is what it is. Usually, this is the case when someone is criticizing you, puts demands upon you or they are upset with you. When this happens, you may become upset, stressed, irritated or anxious. You take to heart their opinions and actions. You see their word as the end all be all. You let it ruin what should be a joyful celebration.
Let me tell you this. Usually people are trying to project how they are feeling onto you. Someone who criticizes or judges you may be threatened by your competence, may feel insecure, or may want to cover up their feelings of anger, sadness, or anxiety. Ultimately, they are insecure and want you to feel the same. So what do you do? Do you continue to own their insecurities as your own? Or do you let them have their opinions and you go about your business? Remember, you don’t need to take on their insecurities and feelings about what they think you should or shouldn’t be doing. Remember, you have control over how you feel. Don’t take on someone else’s emotions. Don’t let someone else ruin your mood during the holidays. Take it back. If the criticisms get too out of hand, see below.
Set Boundaries. Let me say it again. SET BOUNDARIES!. Yes, your relatives may annoy you or get on your last nerve. They may get in their feelings or judge how you live your life. Remember, you don’t have to take it. You know you can set boundaries by speaking up or leaving the situation, right? They are not holding a gun to your head. So many you think you have to stay and put up with being mistreated. Many people I have spoken with say they don’t want to be disrespectful by setting boundaries. Remember it is not disrespectful speaking up for yourself. What may be disrespectful is what you say and how you say. Yelling, screaming or cussing is not the way to speak up for yourself. It is definitely not the way you will be heard. Telling the person what they said and how it made you feel in a calm voice will be received better. Also letting the person know that if the behavior continues, you will be leaving or they will have to leave. This is not disrespectful, it is respecting yourself and stopping people from treating you a certain way.
Go With The Flow
We are still in a pandemic. The holidays will not be the same. There will be masks, social distancing, missing family members, new family members, missing foods due to shortages, etc. Just roll with it. Maybe you will create a new tradition this year. Maybe you can have Thanksgiving in the backyard. Maybe you will only have half of the family for one holiday and the other half during another holiday. Maybe serve steak instead of Turkey. Take care of your mental health by adjusting to the circumstance. You never know what will come from it.
The holidays do not have to be stressful if you have a plan in place. You deserve it to yourself to have a peaceful, joyous, exciting holiday.
This year it's just the four of us for Thanksgiving. We aren't ready to have a family packed holiday yet. Hopefully next year we will be back on track. I have come to terms with it and my decision has given me peace of mind. I have my holiday text homies on standby just because I love them and just in case they need me. LOL!
What will you do this holiday season to take control of your emotions?
I am a therapist who helps individuals who are motivated to transform their inner voice of self-doubt and self-criticism into a powerful voice of positive self-talk and self-trust. We help individuals recognize their inner worth, build their self-esteem and speak their truth.