If we are to believe advertisements and the media, the holidays should be a glittering magic time when dreams come true and all expectations are met. While that might happen on TV, in real life people don’t usually resolve all their problems and live happily ever after in an hour. For many, the holidays are a time of tension, pressure, loneliness, reflection on past failures, anxiety, and loss.

What Causes Holiday Blues?

Seasonal stress has many causes. Financial anxieties mount as holiday spending spirals out of control. People run themselves ragged trying to meet unrealistic expectations and deadlines. Complicated family dynamics cause tensions to rise to unbearable levels. Separation from family and friends can cause depression. Too much alcohol, rich food and late nights can contribute to weight gain, upset stomachs, and even insomnia. Fantasized memories of how things were or how they ought to be can intensify feelings and erode our emotional wellbeing.

What Can You Do About It?

No matter what your circumstances are, the holidays need not be a pressure cooker. Here are 15 ways to help you get through them with your psyche intact.

1. Forget about perfection – you can’t please everyone. Accept the fact that things are not always going to go as planned and laugh when they don’t.

2. Be flexible about traditions. If honoring them is only going to add more stress, don’t.

3. Set differences aside but consider family issues when planning gatherings. If you know someone will drink too much and behave badly, plan a non-alcoholic breakfast or brunch instead of dinner.

4. Stick to a budget and enforce your spending limits. If not, you’ll be stressed for the rest of the year trying to pay off your bills. Gifts need not be expensive to be personal and meaningful.

5. Avoid being pressured into traveling if you can’t afford it. Have an honest conversation with your family and plan to have you own celebration at your own home. If you travel purely out of guilt, both you and your wallet will suffer for it.

6. Eat and drink in moderation but pick another time to start a diet. A strict deprivation routine in the midst of holiday delicacies and temptations will only add further stress.

7. Ask guests to contribute food for holiday parties. There is no reason for you to do all the cooking when most people are happy with a potluck.

8. Stay in the present. People and events are seldom as glorified as we remember them. Norman Rockwell moments exist only in paintings. Stop fantasizing about the past and comparing what once existed to what is here and now. All that matters is now.

9. Plan ahead. Give yourself plenty of time to run errands, wrap and mail gifts, and prepare food. Otherwise you can end up feeling like you are a day late and a dollar short.

10. Avoid getting caught in the last minute shopping stampede when you are likely to make poorer choices and spend more than you want.

11. Prioritize. Not every task is of equal importance and you can’t be expected to do everything. Learn to say no.

12. Seek out kindred souls and spend time with them. Reach out to others—isolation breeds depression.

13. Give yourself time out for recharging. If you burn yourself out your holiday could go up in smoke.

14. Acknowledge your feelings. If you are not in a celebratory mood, it’s okay. You are not the only one.

15. Practice EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) or use some other stress management technique to neutralize emotionally charged situations that can ruin your holiday.

Author's Bio: 

Judith Albright, MA, EFT-ADV, is an EFT practitioner and PSYCH-K® Facilitator in Ft. Collins, CO who works with people of all ages to neutralize stress and offload emotional baggage.
She is convinced that EFT and PSYCH-K® are a powerful and unbeatable combination that can literally change the world, one person at a time. For more information visit www.stressfreewitheft.com or call 970 218-8643.