Happy Holidays from Mind Matters Psychology

The holiday season brings a sense of joy, love and happiness to many, yet not for all. Unfortunately the holiday season represents a time of stress and chaos for many people. So why do some love the holidays whereas others dread the holidays? Just like in my post on anger, I believe the cause of holiday stress comes down to expectations. We tend to place such high demands on others and ourselves that we do not have the appropriate resources to cope with all the demands.

During the holidays we need to find the perfect gift for loved ones while combating traffic, parking lots and lines at the mall; we need to attend and host friends and families for holiday gatherings; we need to cook extravagant meals; we need to maintain a spotless home for when our friends and family drop by; we need to spend time with people that we try to avoid during the year because we just don’t get along. And of course there are the common stressors that many deal with every year; financial difficulty; family drama; grieving for those that are not with us; physical exhaustion; overeating and of course weather to name a few.

So why do some manage all the demands and pressures while others suffer through the holidays year after year?  Individuals that enjoy the holidays often recognize their abilities and personal limits to set themselves up for success. Even too much of a good thing can tire us out. One of the simplest strategies that we can employ is know your limits and be realistic with what you can accomplish. Many challenges come from high demands that all seem to present at the same time, so plan ahead. Holiday stress is often quite predictable, manage your time and give yourself additional time for when things go astray. Set priorities and make sure you assert them. Continue to use coping skills and relaxation based exercises, especially if feeling overwhelmed. Many people stop doing the things that make them happy when stressed, as they do not feel they have the time. However, this tends to backfire as when we stop using our coping skills, we stop coping.

And finally, a simple word to keep in mind throughout the holiday season is moderation.

Maybe Christmas, the Grinch thought, doesn’t come from a store.
Dr. Seuss


“Happy Holidays (5318408861)” by Marcus Quigmire from Florida, USA – happy HolidaysUploaded by Princess Mérida. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Happy_Holidays_(5318408861).jpg#/media/File:Happy_Holidays_(5318408861).jpg