One of the main reasons that many people experience so much holiday stress is that they have expectations that do not match reality and they keep trying to nudge reality to be more in line with their expectations. The Holidays do not have to be perfect to be happy, merry, or enjoyable.When you try to spend more resources than you have, you will experience stress. When you attempt to juggle spending your time, energy and money to try to find the perfect gift for each person, to plan and execute the perfect meal, and to host the perfect party with each guest enjoying every other guest, (plus the numerous other tasks you take on), you will be exhausted and disappointed. If you can settle for less than perfect, you can reduce your stress. Here are some examples of sanity saving shifts in thinking and behavior:
Instead of spending all that time and energy shopping for the perfect outfit to wear on Christmas or to that big Christmas party, consider adding a new holiday accessory to something that you that you already own, love and feel comfortable in.
That “perfect” Christmas card that you spent so much time and energy on last year is probably not remembered this year. The fact that you sent a Christmas card probably will be remembered. Don’t torture yourself for a Christmas card. Allocate your resources of time, energy and money according to your real needs and values.
When you feel compelled to keep spending until you feel assured of getting that certain someone’s attention, remind yourself that you don’t have to spend money that you don’t have or can ill afford to spend to let someone know that they matter. Remember that the amount you spend does not necessarily determine the quality of the gift. It might also help to remember that if you don’t spend outside your budget, you probably won’t have to be paying additional credit card expenses throughout the coming year.
When you feel obliged as a good neighbor, co-worker, friend, son/daughter, mother/father, or community member, to participate in all activities and get togethers that you are invited to, you will end up exhausted and resentful. This is the time of year when you may have more invitations and social expectations than at any other time. When you are stressed out, these invitations can feel like demands for your time and attention. When you can begin to believe that even “nice” people say “no” to some invitations, and allow yourself to do so, you can reduce a lot of stress.
Special holiday meals are fodder for perfectionism. Are you compelled to serve the perfect turkey with the perfect stuffing and side dishes on the perfectly appointed holiday table? How many hours and how much money goes into the perfect meal? Would it ruin the holidays to have it catered? Do you really have to bake pies and cakes or would sweets purchased from the bakery work?
If you are working on losing weight or maintaining weight loss, is it self-sabotaging to think that you must provide for your guests foods which you don’t eat? Believing that you are baking those holiday treats for someone else could be a set up for relapse. The same thing applies for maintaining sobriety. Other people usually do not expect newly sober people to provide alcohol at their holiday social gatherings.
If you have visions of your home cleaned, polished, and decorated to perfection, the lights strung perfectly across your rooftop and your Christmas tree the picture of perfection, you may be spending every waking moment to accomplish it, and in the process, the stress just keeps getting higher and higher. If on the other hand, you take into account the amount of time, energy, and resources that are available to you, and do only what you can reasonably accomplish, you will be less stressed and happier with the results. Would Christmas be cancelled if you decided to do only as much as you can reasonably do.
There is only one solution for holiday perfectionism stress. No one is perfect–not even you. When you can accept that you are not perfect, that you cannot work twenty four hours a day to make the holidays perfect, and that the holidays do not have to be perfect for you to be loved, approved of, and accepted, you can relax and enjoy them. You are worthwhile and worthy even when your turkey is dry, your gift is the wrong size, the fireplace mantle never gets decorated, and everyone is not present for the holidays.
Those prone to Holiday Stress do not have to continue to persist in the same old behaviors that year after year drive up their stress. “The Recovering Person’s Guide to Surviving and Thriving Through the Holidays Without Losing Your Sobriety or Your Sanity” has an abundance of helpful suggestions. Although written with the recovering person in mind, it provides helpful information to anyone experiencing repeated holiday stress. This helpful ebook can be purchased and downloaded from the website of Dr. Peggy L. Ferguson, Ph.D. at web: peggyferguson .com/ManagingHolidayStressArticles.en.html