The month of December is a tricky time for many people. For some, like the song says, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. Many people truly live for the excitement of the season, getting together with friends and families, the big celebrations, exchanging gifts, Christmas dinner and more.
However, there’s another group of people where it’s exactly the opposite. It’s more like the most miserable time of the year. And for many of them, it’s not that they want to be unhappy or choose to be this way; it’s just that they don’t do well with all the change from everyday routines, they don’t like large gatherings and they become easily overwhelmed and stressed by all that comes with the holiday season.
Here are five ways to handle the stress of the holidays and make it more enjoyable.
Do These Things to Stay Sane During the Holidays
1. Slow down
The holidays can put a lot of pressure on people. Think about it: life is challenging enough as it is, and with all the extra commitments and things that have to get done this time of year, it can cause panic and chaos for even the most mentally tough people. When you find yourself moving a million miles an hour, take a step back and slow down. Instead of getting overwhelmed in everything you have to do, focus on one task at a time.
Looking at one thing in front of you compared to the big picture makes it much more manageable.
2. Ask for help
There’s no reason you have to do everything by yourself during the holiday season.
Ask for help. If you’re hosting Christmas dinner, for example, ask your spouse or children to help with the shopping, coking, decorating, setting up the guest bedroom, taking out the trash, walking the dog, etc. In fact, the holiday season is more enjoyable when everyone works together to create these special memories that will last for years to come.
3. Don’t feel bad about saying ‘No”
Let’s face it: there is only so much time in a day and the holidays can eat up a lot of our time. You’re probably being invited to several holiday parties. Maybe your family wants you to host Christmas morning at your house but you would rather keep it small and spend time with just your spouse and kids. Perhaps you’ve been asked to setup the secret Santa exchange at your work.
No matter what it is, realize that it’s okay to say ‘no.” In fact, a very simple response to soften it is, “I would normally love to help; however, I already have so much on my plate right now. I’ll have to pass on the offer. I would love to help another time.”
4. Take a break
Excess cognition and entertaining too many thoughts at once is the enemy of creativity, clarity and a calm mind. If the holiday season gets to be too much, take a break. Put everything down for a day and go do something you really enjoy.
If you feel a day is too long, take 30 minutes to an hour and go for a walk, spend time doing something fun with a friend, take your kids to the park, read a new book, work on your business plan for the New Year, watch TV or whatever it is that will take your mind off of the holidays.
5. Put things in perspective
When you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed, put things in perspective. Turn off the voice inside your head and talk to yourself. Become your own best friend and your own means of support. Tell yourself the craziness of the holiday season will only last for a few weeks and then life goes back to normal. Tell yourself it’s only temporary and that you can hang tough a little longer. Lower your expectations of how the holidays are supposed to feel and just let it happen.
When you put things in perspective, you often see it’s not as bad as you think it is.
The holidays are a tough time for many people. If you don’t easily find joy in the season, don’t feel guilty and beat yourself up. It is indeed a very stressful time of the year. Focus on the things that have the most meaning in your life. Be thankful for all the great things in your life. Spend time with the people who matter most and love you. When you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed, frustrated and stressed out, step back and start focusing on yourself. You’ll feel a lot better.
Steve Siebold is author of 177 Mental Toughness Secrets of The World Class, and a psychological performance and mental toughness coach to Fortune 500 executives, professional athletes, successful entrepreneurs and other super achievers.
Featured photo by Nikos Koutoulas