The 2021 holiday season is upon us, and many of us will be gathering with our families for the first time in nearly 2 years. There is bound to be excitement for the upcoming festivities, food, and reunions, but that excitement could cause us to forget how stressful family time can truly be. Whether you’re worried about planning the perfect holiday meal, travelling for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, or just having awkward interactions with family members who share differing opinions, there is no doubt that the holiday season can bring a whirlwind of stress and emotions. How can you cope with this stress and make sure that you are enjoying your holiday as much as you can while also taking care of yourself properly?
One of the best ways to handle your stress is to know what it is that causes it. Does a certain relative always manage to get under your skin? Does the idea of cooking a meal for your entire extended family make your heart race? Knowing the situations that trigger stress for you can help you to be aware and prepared to cope with those situations. While we cannot always avoid those instances, they can feel more manageable if we can anticipate them instead of feeling taken aback when they happen.
Along with knowing what has the potential to cause stress, it is important to know what works to reduce your stress. Common ways to cope with stress can include breathing and grounding techniques, journaling, meditation, spending time with people who support you, and taking part in physical activity. Creating a self-care plan for yourself that incorporates different types of activities that you enjoy can help you to feel prepared to cope with the inevitable stress of the holidays.
There are only so many hours in a day. Especially after nearly 2 years of limited contact with family and friends, it can be easy to feel like you should say ‘yes’ to every opportunity to see your loved ones. However, this can quickly lead to feeling burnt out and stressed with little time left to yourself. To avoid these feelings, it is necessary to set boundaries for yourself and your time.
The process of setting boundaries begins by deciding what your boundaries actually are. How many gatherings do you really want to go to? How much time do you need to set aside to make sure that you are meeting your own needs? Are there any topics that you know will only frustrate you if brought up in conversation? Answering questions like these can help you to learn your limits and establish a comfort zone during the stress of the holiday season. Once your boundaries are established, communication with your loved ones about what you are willing and able to take on, as well as enforcing your boundaries by disengaging with situations that cross them, is a necessity.
Holidays can be stressful at the best of times, and the first holiday season after nearly 2 years living in a pandemic is definitely no exception. At SBS Psychological Associates, we are ready to help you handle that stress and anything other stress that life presents for you. Give yourself the gift of self-care and strong and healthy boundaries this holiday season, call us now to schedule your first appointment!