Be aware of the swirl of expectations surrounding the holidays.
Popular culture paints a bright and cheery view of the holidays that might lead to unrealistic expectations. Conflict, difficult family dynamics, loneliness or grief don’t suddenly change for the better because of the season, and might even be felt more keenly, because of these expectations, stress and alcohol. Managing a child’s expectations might mean more stress for a parent. Take a step back to think through what you are expecting during the holidays, and to see what is realistic and important given your life circumstances right now.
Be mindful of creating traditions and celebrating events that mean something to you.
The old adage that “less is more” certainly applies to the holidays. A few things that are meaningful to you will help you feel connected to the season and to your values; too many scattered, chaotic activities could leave you stressed and depleted.
Savor the moment.
Related to the point above, when there is a special event or experience, remind yourself to pause to take a mental and emotional picture to treasure later. Using all of your senses, linger on the moment taking in all the sights, sounds and body sensations that come along with the experience.
If you are feeling emotional stress, work to find perspective.
Holidays may be particularly difficult for people who have recently suffered a loss, or can be challenging for those who have had less than ideal upbringings. If you are experiencing strong emotions, it might be helpful to remind yourself that the holiday is “just another day.” It may also be helpful to develop traditions of one’s own that are not holiday related at all. Spending some time volunteering or visiting with those who are homebound may be useful to keeping perspective on the season.
Practice good self-care.
Busyness, economic pressures, unrealistic expectations and a lack of routine can start you edging towards being overwhelmed or underwhelmed. Taking three deep breaths as you do a quick mental check in, or setting a timer to sit for five minutes as you focus on your natural breathing are some powerful ways you can slow down, relax and be more present.