Your childhood memories of the holidays are usually pretty special, right? All kinds of things dazzled your mind: Santa, TV specials, Nativity scenes, egg nog, fruitcakes, Christmas trees, menorahs, and scores of mysterious intriguing presents.
As you get older, though, the downsides that you never thought could be associated with the holidays begin to surface. Little kids are way too busy poking at presents and scarfing down massive amounts of sugary foods. It isn't until they hit adolescence that they begin to notice the stress. What happened to the holidays?
The holidays haven't changed you have. They're still "magical" times, but your share of the stress gets bigger the older you get. To keep yourself sane during the holidays, here's some things to keep in mind:
First – Why are people stressed during such fun, loving times?
- Holiday functions: Just about every social group in your life is going to want to have one, and they may require that you bring food and gifts or wear formal dress clothes.
- Holiday cooking: The amount of cooking and baking can get expensive, overwhelming, and tiring.
- Holiday gifts: Buying presents can generate a big bill, and on top of that, you have to think of gift ideas, find the gift, wrap the gift, ship the gift, etc.
- Holiday health: Taking extra helpings and eating more sugary treats than normal can make you feel tired and sluggish. Being around so many people and places can expose you to illnesses and run you down.
- Holiday fights: Family dinners can erupt into arguments if stress and tensions are high.
- Christkwanzakkuh: If you're part of an interfaith or multicultural family, the holidays may seem complicated.
- Holiday Relationships: Having a relationship can cause stress if it is new territory for you. (Do you go to his family's party? Is she expecting me to buy her a gift?).
- Or Lack of Holiday Relationships: Not having a special someone to celebrate with can make you feel left out or lonely.
What can you do to help ease some of the holiday stress for yourself and your family?
- Take note of the moods around you. When your parents are stressing over the details of the big party minutes before it starts, don't bring up a major life issue. Instead, put it on the shelf and make a plan to talk to them after the festivities.
- Minimize your demands. Look through your Christmas list to Santa and be realistic. Don't beg for tons of crazy, expensive stuff.
- Watch your budget. Put a limit on your spending, and don't feel like you have to buy spectacular presents.
- Prepare for school complications. Look ahead the best you can and try to get your schoolwork out of the way so it doesn't conflict with festivities.
- Help your folks! You aren't royalty, right? Pitch in! This holiday season is yours, too, so help with the baking and decorating.
- Don't expect perfection. Something is going to go wrong this season. Be ready for catastrophes and don't let them spoil the celebration.
- Show respect for the faiths and traditions that your family practices.
- Keep balance in your life. If you've got a significant other, try not to over-do or under-do the time and attention you give to the relationship. And don't be bummed if you're not dating anyone.
- Focus on the love you have for your family, don't dwell on the negatives.
- Keep the peace. Don't fight. Ignore annoying people. Don't bring up past grudges. Relax. A good way to keep the peace among your family and friends (and to give yourself a little peace) is to seek forgiveness.
Your goal for the holidays should be to enjoy yourself and share your happiness with the people around you. That’s not a bad goal to shoot for at all – being happy! So give it your best.