It’s easy to get stressed out over the littlest thing. It almost doesn’t matter what holiday it is either. If you regularly suffer from holiday stress, here are some simple ways for you to calm down so you can actually enjoy yourself.
Do Some Introspection
When you’re feeling the holiday stress, it might be time to do some introspection. Get yourself a notebook, and find a quiet place to write. Now, start writing down all the things that are stressing you out. It doesn’t matter whether you think they should be stressing you out or not. What matters is that you get it down on paper.
Now, for each thing you wrote out, write a small blurb about why you think you’re being stressed out by this thing. Next, write out facts that support your emotional state and facts that don’t support your emotional state.
Most people find this exercise difficult to do because they’re not used to analyzing their emotions. They feel dumb and intimidated by it. Relax. You’re the only one who’s going to see this. The goal is to figure out why you’re so stressed out and then eliminate the root causes of your stress.
Sometimes, it’s as simple as a mistaken assumption. For example, let’s say you’re stressed out about an upcoming holiday. You’re stressed because your mother-in-law is coming into town and you two don’t seem to get along very well. After thinking about it, you realize it’s not that you don’t get along but rather you don’t have much in common or much to talk about. Now we’re getting somewhere.
How do you solve this issue? Think of things that your mother-in-law is interested in and ask her about them. You’ll get to know her better and you may find you two get along great.
It’s easy to overspend on things like food and gifts. This is especially true for holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving, or even special events like birthdays (which aren’t technically holidays but most people treat them as such). Aside from the big ones, people tend to overspend on seemingly insignificant or “smaller” holidays, like Labor Day or Memorial Day.
Food makes up a huge part of a holiday spending budget, and many people feel pressured into buying more than they can comfortably afford. Take Labor Day, for example. You’re expected to host a BBQ, buy all the meat, booze, and throw a spectacular party.
This is really expensive. Even if meat is $4 per pound, you’re spending at least $80 for 40 guests. That doesn’t include side dishes and accoutrement. You could end up spending a few hundred dollars for a party that lasts several hours.
Set a firm budget, and ask other people to pitch in. It’s getting more common these days to host “pot luck” style cookouts. If you’re the host, it’s kind of expected you’ll be providing the mail course, so shop at wholesale stores. If you’re not a member of a wholesale club, ask friends if they have memberships. Maybe they’ll take you shopping under their membership if you pay for the meat.
Being disorganized is inherently stressful. Try using simple organizational solutions like a notebook to make a “to-do” list. You can also use mobile or web apps if that’s your thing. Programs like Omnifocus are great at getting you organized and focused on what you need to do for the day.
Learn To Say “No”
At the end of the day, you have to learn when to say “no.” Many people are stressed out around the holidays because they take on too much. You don’t need to appease everyone. Take some time for yourself. Is it selfish? Yes, but it’s also good for your mental health.
Holiday stress is nothing new. At the same time, it’s not normal. The best strategy to reduce or eliminate it is to face your problems head-on in a non-threatening and non-judgmental way. Keep the holidays simple and remember to have fun.