The holiday season is a time of joy, festivities, and cherished moments. Still, at the same time, it can also be an emotional rollercoaster often accompanied by a looming sense of stress. While we eagerly anticipate festive activities, the pressure to create picture-perfect celebrations, be on your best cheery behavior, find the perfect gift, or prepare the best meal can lead to anxiety and tension. The paradox of the holidays lies in their potential for both happiness and stress and how we approach this delicate balance can significantly impact our overall experience. It's essential to acknowledge that stress is a part of the holiday package, but it doesn't have to overshadow the joy. Understanding our ability to redirect anxiety towards positivity can transform the season into a more enjoyable and fulfilling time.
Rejecting Perfectionism for a Stress-Free Holiday
One effective strategy to alleviate holiday stress is combating the need for perfectionism. It's important to recognize that there is no such thing as a perfect holiday. Each family holds unique traditions, recipes, decorations, and values, leading to diverse celebrations. Avoid the trap of comparing this year's festivities to those of the past. Striving for perfection is a setup for disappointment since controlling every aspect is impossible. Remember, it is impossible to control everything, but what you can control is your response to situations. Whether you've prepared a seemingly flawless meal or curated a thoughtful gift, acknowledge that some elements may be beyond your control, like a spontaneous disagreement at the dinner table. Instead of fixating on finding the perfect gift, opt for a thoughtful collection of items you know your loved ones will appreciate. Embracing flexibility, rejecting perfectionism, and setting realistic expectations and goals can relieve stress during this holiday season.
Establishing a Daily Routine for Stability
Feeling overwhelmed during the holidays is more common than you might think, and it's paramount to understand that you're not alone in this experience. Acceptance also plays a significant role in resolving guilt about experiencing depressive and anxious symptoms. Research in the field of Psychology has shown that there is a significant increase in psychiatric symptoms, such as anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts, during the holiday season. Remember, you are not alone in this experience! These symptoms can come from various sources, but one prominent contributing factor is the abrupt departure from our regular routines. Routines provide a sense of structure, offering a predictable flow to our day-to-day lives. However, with the holidays come sudden changes, causing our routines to disappear overnight. Workplaces close, children are on break from school, and guests fill our homes. Coping with this sudden change becomes easier when you build a new schedule accommodating the changes. Start by listing activities you genuinely enjoy. This can include making a fun dessert, crafting holiday cards with your children, making a garland to decorate the house, watching your favorite movie, or reading a favorite holiday story. Then, prepare a schedule that balances essential responsibilities with these enjoyable and fulfilling activities. This new routine can help alleviate the stress caused by the holiday season's disruptions, bringing a sense of stability and joy to your days.
Prioritizing Well-Being Amidst Festivities
The holiday season, with its mix of joyous celebrations and added responsibilities, often brings about a unique set of challenges that can impact our mental and emotional well-being. Prioritizing your well-being during this time becomes paramount, and one effective way to achieve this is by creating a schedule that balances holiday tasks with moments of joy, which is a crucial step in prioritizing your well-being. This schedule serves as a tangible reminder to pace yourself. It's important not to overload yourself with so many obligations that you are unable to enjoy the season. Attempting to meet everyone's expectations and needs can lead to heightened anxiety. Take a moment to reflect on what was stressful last year and construct a set of clear boundaries going into this season. These boundaries involve setting a budget for gift giving, not discussing divisive topics, reducing the amount of time spent with certain family members, or giving yourself alone time to decompress. Whether you express these boundaries to others or keep them as personal guidelines, they serve as a valuable tool for navigating stressful situations. Remember, saying no and advocating for your well-being is perfectly okay. Reducing holiday stress requires it! Engaging in self-care activities such as reading a book, exercising, meditating, listening to music, journaling, or taking a leisurely walk are excellent ways to reduce anxiety and make time for yourself.
Embracing the Holiday Spirit and Celebrating Family
Embarking on the holiday season with a positive mindset involves equipping yourself with essential tools. While it's normal to feel anxious during this time, it's crucial to trust in your strength, resilience, and capacity for celebration amid stress. Remember, the holidays are a celebration of family. Structuring the holidays to focus on gratitude and love for both present and past family members can take the pressure off feeling like you must make everything perfect. Regardless of unmet expectations, your family remains a constant source of support.
It's important to be authentically you. If you are experiencing significant stress or depression, don't hesitate to talk about those feelings with your family. Odds are, other family members may be experiencing similar holiday tensions. Open communication is a powerful tool to resolve conflicts and reduce distressing symptoms while growing closer as a family. If, however, these negative feelings of anxiety persist past the holiday season and affect your ability to fulfill daily responsibilities, it might be the right time to reach out to a professional for help.
Ebb & Flow Counseling + Coaching is Here to Help
At Ebb & Flow Counseling + Coaching, we understand that the holiday season can bring unique challenges to individuals and families. Our team of experienced counselors and coaches is here to provide support and guidance tailored to your specific needs. Whether you're seeking strategies to manage stress, improve communication within your family, or navigate personal challenges, we are committed to helping you find peace and joy this season and after. Our pre-licensed clinicians have immediate availability at reduced rates. Reach out to us, and let us assist you in creating a more fulfilling holiday experience.
Learn about Gabriela Bevacqua-Collins
Gabriela Bevacqua-Collins is a Master's student in Clinical Psychology at Penn State Harrisburg. She has a background in art therapy and enjoys incorporating art and creative interventions into her work with clients. She enjoys working with adolescents and young adults navigating a history of trauma or challenging life circumstances. Gabriela has immediate availability for new clients, and her session rate is $10-40, depending on financial need.
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Learn about Farren Schmidt
Farren Schmidt has her Master's degree in counseling from George Washington University. She works as a school guidance counselor during the day and enjoys working with children, adolescents, and their parents. She is working towards licensure as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and has evening availability at Ebb & Flow for clients of all ages. She is particularly interested in gaining more experience working 1:1 with adults navigating life transitions, infertility, and work/life balance issues. Farren has immediate availability for new clients, and her session rate is $60-80, depending on financial need.
Request an appointment with Farren today!
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