Home for the Holidays
Tips for overcoming holiday anxiety and stress.
Controlling Holiday Stress
Experts say that the holidays can make people feel out of control. We feel
at the mercy of our relatives or steamrolled by the sheer force of family
tradition. But you have a say. The key is to take some control over the
holidays, instead of letting them control you.
For instance, you may find the family obligations of the holidays
overwhelming. You have to make the rum balls according to your
grandmother’s recipe, even though you personally find them inedible. You
have to go over to your aunt’s for the holiday dinner, even though she
always drinks too much, makes a scene, and freaks out your kids. You
have to leave a poinsettia on your grandfather’s grave, even though it’s
three hours and two states away. You don’t exactly want to do any of
these things. You just have to.
Duckworth encourages people to stop right there. Do you really have to?
“Ask yourself, ‘Why am I doing things that make me miserable?’” Duckworth
tells WebMD. “Think about the reasons.” He suggests that you draw up a list of
reasons why you engage in these holiday traditions, and then a list of reasons
why you shouldn’t. Just making a simple pro and con list will remind you that
you do have a choice.
Changing Your Outlook
The next step is to challenge some of your assumptions. If you enjoyed the
holidays differently this year, what would happen? What if you didn’t go
to your aunt’s for dinner? What if you didn’t bring the poinsettias to
your grandfather’s grave?
Your gut feeling might be: Calamity! Disaster! But get past that initial
reaction. Think about what would really happen. Maybe your aunt would be
annoyed. Is that really such a big deal? Could you make it up to her later with
a brunch in February? Instead of trekking to your grandfather’s grave, could
you honor him in a different way -- lighting a candle or saying a prayer?
The key is to be conscious about what you’re doing. This holiday season,
don’t unthinkingly do things the same way just because that’s how you always do
them. If the old holiday traditions aren’t working, if they’re not making you
happy and causing holiday stress, it’s time to do something different.