Is there such a thing as “stress-free holidays”? A lot of people would answer no to this question. Maybe a few would give a more positive answer. The holiday season is an incredibly complicated time. We each have a holiday history. Our holidays may have been wonderful, terrible, boring, alienating, lonely and joyful at various times.
In addition, holidays may be very important to some people and not so important to others. People who are Jewish, Buddhist, agnostic, atheists or Muslims and people who celebrate Solstice or Kwanzaa rather than Christmas may have an especially difficult time finding their traditions reflected anywhere in the broader culture during this largely Christian holiday season. Even Christians have many different ways of celebrating.
Make your goal of this holiday season to enjoy it. If you love to give gifts, shop early so you aren’t stressed at the last minute. If you aren’t sure what to get someone, ask them—you will both be more satisfied. Who says gifts always have to be a surprise? And it’s OK to negotiate limits on gift-giving, either price limits or limits on who does and does not need to receive gifts.
If you are more philanthropic during the holidays, ask your family and friends if it is OK with them for you to gift to a worthwhile charity on your behalf. Find a compromise between your values and their desires. Some people who don’t have means or don’t believe in gift-giving may choose to emphasize time spent with people they care about. There are many ways to reduce holiday stress.
1) What are your values and how do you prefer to honor the holidays?
2) How are you going to plan for difficult family situations that are likely to occur?
3) What can you do (or are you already doing) to reduce stress and increase your enjoyment of this holiday season?