It’s supposed to be “the most wonderful time of the year.” Unfortunately, for many, the holiday season is also the most stressful time of the year. From buying gifts and attending the office holiday party to hosting Christmas dinner and holiday travel, how can you keep your sanity?
To reduce the stress of the holidays to stop doing these 10 things:
1. Stop trying to please your family. If you can’t say no to your family, the holiday season will be a stressful time for you. Your family will ask you to do many things over the holidays, and although quality time is nice, allocate your time accordingly. If you don’t allot your time wisely you will end up overcommitted and stressed-out.
2. Stop painting the holiday fantasy. We can all dream of the perfect family in matching sweaters sipping cider by the fire, but know that the stereotypical holiday fantasy is just that, make believe. If you set unrealistic expectations, you will only be let down. Appreciate your actual family, no matter how crazy. Let the reality of your holidays unfold realistically. Trying to make a fantasy into reality only leads to disappointment and false hope. It may not be your ideal, but life is not a television sitcom.
3. Stop being a perfectionist. Now is the season to bond and spend time together, but it tends to be a time of chaos for some as well. Don’t try to control situations because it only leaves you stressed and feeling out-of-control. Things always go wrong, and that is just life. Go with the flow to best enjoy every moment.
4. Stop eating to excess. Indulging is alright for the holidays, but know your limit. All the delicacies can be too tempting. Your health is top priority, and when you eat junk and desserts to excess, your body can get out of balance. Save yourself the New Year’s resolution, and eat in moderation now.
5. Stop trying to make everyone happy. People pleasing is a common fault of many. It is impossible to make everyone happy, and this is particularly accurate in the holiday season. You won’t make every dinner party, and that is okay. People may initially seem disappointed, but when you set your boundaries, people respect you for it.
6. Stop expecting big gifts. The holidays are often categorized as a gift-giving season, thanks to the excessive commercials. Stop expecting dazzling presents from family, friends and coworkers. Your big expectations lead to big disappointment if not fulfilled. If you received that fancy watch last year from your significant other, that doesn’t mean you are entitled to anything this year. Expect nothing, and if something is gifted to you, be grateful. Follow up with a genuine ‘thank you’ note penned with a personal message to express your gratitude.
7. Stop buying on credit. The season’s gift-giving reputation causes you to feel like you have to keep up with the Joneses to fit in with the cool crowd. Purchase gifts within your budget. Your buying power doesn’t need to be outlandish. Be personal and genuine rather than showy. These gifts are more heartfelt than the big-ticket item on everyone’s wish list this season. Spending on credit is going to send your stress levels through the roof when the bill comes and you can’t pay it off.
8. Stop determining worth on things. The pressure to buy during this time of year can shift your perspective onto things rather than experiences. Don’t determine your own worth or anyone else’s on items. Happiness is not dictated by that with which you own, but rather who you are as a person. Consider gifting an experience like a trip or a concert to make a memorable adventure.
9. Stop prioritizing others over yourself. The holidays are known for spending time together with loved ones, but don’t forget about yourself. It can be a great stress reliever to relax and enjoy alone time. With the extra time off, treat yourself to some time to do nothing. Even cancelling on plans to take a night to yourself might be the healthiest indulgence.
10. Stop planning everything. Planning can relieve a lot of stress when you carefully articulate your daily schedule, but not always. Trying to control every minute leads to underlying stress you might not even realize. Don’t live for your to-do list, just bask in the moment for maximum enjoyment. Being present during the holidays is the most enjoyable thing you can do. You never know what unexpected excitement could be right around the corner.
Dr. Alok Trivedi is a psychological performance coach, author of the book Chasing Success and the founder of The Aligned Performance Institute.