Staying Positive During the Holidays

staying positive during the holidays

The holidays are a lot of fun but for many the holidays are also a lot of stress. More than 50% of adults admit to feeling overwhelming stress, anxiety and/or pressure around the holidays and holiday depression is a real and treatable psychological condition. 

The reason behind the overwhelm is clear, there is so much to do and so little time to do it. The pressure is especially hard on parents who feel the push to bring the magic of the holiday to life for their children year after year. That in addition to the extra hurdles and last minute adjustments being made in response to the whirlwind year we’re all living through is enough to drive even the calmest person up the wall! 

Before you succumb to another year of the live-action, real life version of the opening scene of The Grinch (the one with Jim Carrey, not the cartoon) let us help you find your calm, your balance and your positivity this holiday season with these top tips for keeping your cool and staying positive during the holidays. 

Tip #1: Have a Plan 

Having a plan itself will not make your holiday season a more positive one but not having one is guaranteed to make it less positive. Most of the stress and overwhelm that comes from the holiday season comes from last minute tasks that seem to never end. Get ahead of it this year with a master plan. 

To create a master plan think of EVERYTHING you need to get your holiday off on the best foot. Remember this isn’t about making more work for you but more about having a clear vision of what is needed. 

Some common items to include in a master holiday plan include: 

  • Meal Plans & Menus
  • Gift Lists & Gift Ideas
  • Wrapping Supplies 
  • Decorations Needed (lights, ribbons, garland, etc.) 
  • Shopping Calendars
  • Budgets 

Everyone’s plan will look different. Some may be elaborate with several mini-plans nested within and others may be simple. Whatever the plan looks like for you, just try and think ahead to all of the possible bottlenecks and bumps in the road and try and course correct before you get there. 

Tip #2: Don’t Skip The Me Time 

The holidays are a lot, especially for moms. Now is not the time to skip your me time. If you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed take a few minutes, literally it can be as little as a few minutes, to do something for you. 

Have a giant stack of gifts to wrap? Take a deep breath and grab yourself a glass of wine or cup of warm tea or whatever drink you enjoy. Then wrap those gifts. If you know you’re going to be exhausted after a long shopping, baking or decorating weekend, plan an afternoon to lay in bed and watch holiday movies or a night to have a long bath. Alone. With the door closed. 

Me time does NOT have to be elaborate and it isn’t always a weekend away or a golf outing. Sometimes even the smallest break can help to reset your motivation, and your peace. 

Tip #3: Plan Things You Enjoy 

If you’re a parent you will likely spend hours this year watching children’s holiday performances, building candy gingerbread houses, watching animated Santa Clause movies or reading countless versions of the same holiday stories. If you’re a daughter, son, aunt, cousin, or grandparent you’ll likely be invited to 16 different events on the same weekend and be asked to participate in countless other holiday activities. 

These things are not necessarily bad and family interaction is great! However; if these aren’t things you would have chosen to do yourself it can start to feel like you’re a sheep being herded from one field to another until one day you look up and it’s January 3rd and you’re taking down the Christmas tree. 

That’s no fun! So in addition to (or maybe in place of a few of) all those family, friend, and work related holiday activities you’ll be participating in, add in some activities you love. These can be big activities like a trip to see holiday lights or even small activities like drinking hot chocolate on the front porch. 

Planning festive activities that you enjoy is a great way to not only allow your family and friends to experience what you love about the holiday but also allows you to be present and (at least a little) in control of your holiday experience. 

Tip #4: Understand that this Holiday Is Not The New Normal 

If you’re struggling with the novelty of this holiday season or the struggles of this year, keep your head up. We will likely all be doing things differently than we’d like and while that can be disappointing it’s important to understand that this too shall pass. Know that this holiday season will be different but that doesn’t mean next year will be.

If you have to skip seeing your family this year, feel the disappointment but then allow yourself to see the bright side or find safer alternatives. There is no right way to celebrate the holidays and know that this year if  you can’t afford the same gifts, or can’t eat the same feast or do any of the same traditions – it is still your holiday season and it’s the only one you get this year. Embrace that it will be different and make it memorable in whatever ways only you can. 

Tip #5: Talk to Others 

We saved this one for last because it is by far the most important tip – talk to others. Nothing does for your mental health, what communicating your feelings does. Talk to your family, friends and loved ones about your holiday stress, about your holiday hopes and about anything else that you’re struggling with or experiencing. 

Even something as simple as acknowledging that you’re nervous about pulling off the ham this year or excited about the walk through the park to see the lights will help those around you to understand you and help you to feel heard. 

And if you’re struggling with symptoms of depression or you can’t seem to will yourself into feeling positive this year, you are not alone! Millions of adults struggle with depression each year, and the cases are even higher in 2020. Schedule an appointment with a counselor or therapist. They can and will help. 

Have a happy holiday season this year everyone. However, that looks for you this year and keep your heads up. A new year is right around the corner. 

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