Holiday Survival Kit!
The holiday season is definitely in full swing and people are hustling and bustling trying to get everything done! One of our counselors, Brittany Strauss has put together some of the toxic thoughts people have–especially during the holidays, that do NOTHING for your holiday spirit!
The holiday season is upon us, and if you are like most people, you are probably feeling the pressure. It seems like the holiday season is starting earlier and earlier, and the expectations for a “perfect” holiday are getting higher and higher. Not only are you dealing with your normal stressors, but the added events, to-dos, and changes in routine are overwhelming.
During the holidays, it seems that our expectation for perfection is at an all-time high, and we are smothered in “shoulds”. With this, the holiday season more of an obligation we must get through, rather than an enjoyable experience. If you are feeling the pressure, you are not alone. Check out the most common “shoulds” through the holiday and remedies to deal with them!
“This holiday season should be perfect!”
Many of us feel the holidays should be the this time where everyone gets along, you find the perfect gift, and overall you have this sense of magic. This can ultimately feel like a ton of pressure and there is a huge amount of disappointment if things do not turn out like the fantasy in your head. It is important during this time to really focus on what you truly want/need to get out of the holidays whether that be connecting with old friends, spending time with loved ones, or giving back to the community. So take a deep breath, be present, and try to focus on what you really want out of the season emotionally, physically, and mentally.
“I should get along with my family (in-laws included!)”
There is often a huge emphasis on spending time with your family around the holidays. People tend to go to their childhood homes, which can lead to individuals falling back into their patterns from childhood. Not only that, family members might have unrealistic expectations for you or about the holidays that don’t fit your needs. It is really important to set limits with family members. I encourage my clients to go into the holiday season with certain boundaries in mind concerning their emotional wellbeing, time, and resources. Don’t allow the expectations of others to force you to do something that doesn’t feel comfortable. If you do have these boundaries in mind prior to the situation, you will feel more comfortable saying no to things you do not want to do. Also, remember that you don’t have to get along with everyone. Just because they are family does not mean you always have to like them.
“I should be at every event and make everyone happy.”
The holiday season is jam-packed full of obligations on top of dealing with the end of the year at work and school. Because of the sheer number of things going on, it can be extremely overwhelming to attend everything. Set limits for yourself on what you will and will not attend. We often feel guilty if we don’t go to an occasion, which is our “shoulds” talking. It is okay to say no if you do not want or need to go to an event. You will feel empowered by allowing yourself to make decisions about your time.
“I should be in a relationship and/or this season should be really romantic.”
There is a lot of pressure to be in a relationship during the holidays. Many of us feel the holidays are supposed to be a magnificent time straight out of a Hallmark movie, where we meet a prince/princess, are surrounded by a light dusting of snow, and live happily ever after. Unfortunately, Hallmark has not tapped into the real world and meeting those expectations are insanely difficult. It leaves us feeling alone or disappointed by what is missing, rather than grateful for what we have. Instead of trying to find the perfect someone for the holidays, reach out to those you actually care about and spend time with people you value. Also, spend time reflecting and expressing gratitude for the happy and healthy relationships you have in your life.
“I should get everyone the best/most expensive/coolest gift.”
If you are like me, shopping for others is extremely difficult because 1. I never know what to get anyone, and 2. I want them to LOVE my gift! This can feel like a ton of pressure. Also, most people feel overwhelmed because they are expected to spend outside their normal parameters during the month of December. This financial stress and pressure to achieve the perfect gift leads to a lot of angry people at the mall. I encourage people to set a budget for what they want to spend on each person prior to shopping. Having an idea in mind of what you feel comfortable with will allow you to set yourself up for financial success. Some of the meaningful gifts tend to be the best gifts, so spending time with a person can be one of the best gifts out there.
“I should be happy.”
There is a lot of pressure to be happy throughout the holiday season. Which, with all of the added stress going on, it can be difficult to find joy. If you are alone around this time of year, it can feel even more isolating and disheartening because it feels as though everyone else has a place to belong. It is more important than ever to take care of yourself during this time. Set 10 to 20 minutes a day aside just to do self-care and replenish yourself. Also throughout the holidays do your best to maintain a routine. You will feel better about yourself because you will feel more in control of everything going on around you. Another important aspect is being aware of your healthy habits during this time. We tend to overindulge around the holidays, so sustaining your exercise habits or trying a new one can allow you to feel better about yourself. Also if you do overindulge, don’t beat yourself up. (You are only human, and cookies are amazing.)
“I shouldn’t be overwhelmed… everyone else has it together.”
It may appear that everyone else has it together, but I would imagine if you looked inside their heads, they are as stressed as you are. Most of the time, especially thanks to social media, we see people looking as though they have everything under control. However, it’s important to remind ourselves that we see things the way people want them to appear, not the way that they are in reality. You are doing fine! However, if you are feeling out of control and overwhelmed make a list of the things you need to get done. From the master list, divide it down into the few things you want to get done each day. By doing this, the whole thing seems more manageable. Finally, take a few deep breaths! You can do this!