One friend packs up her family and heads to some isolated location where they know no one. Another stays in denial, refusing to participate in the holidays until the last possible moment, at which point she races around like a banshee trying to make up for lost time.
Another friend’s house is maximally decorated and her meals for thirty come off without a hitch, yet she is stressed from Halloween until New Years and collapses on January 2nd.
I fall somewhere in the range of denial to wanting the holidays to be perfect. Luckily, I have found three coping mechanisms I would like to share.
1. Plan low-cost fun holiday events.
Window shop, attend an outdoor festival, check out downtown lights, build snow people in the park, etc. These memories are as valuable, if not more, than expensive shows or presents.
2. You are not responsible for the good times of others.
A key to my stress management is reminding myself that I have mastery over my own feelings, attitudes, and behaviours. And no one else’s. I check in with myself periodically and see if I am being the best relative, friend, parent, etc. Knowing I’m doing my best frees me to feel good about myself no matter what drama might be occurring.
3. Cultivate Gratitude
Developing a sense of gratitude takes practice. For some families, this tradition is built into meal time. When else can you find regular times for gratitude? Bedtime? Driving in the car? Depression and gratitude are not conducive to existing in the same space. Keeping myself in the flow of gratitude is key to my sanity and stability over the holidays.