The holidays aren’t joyful when you’re stressed. It’s easy to get caught up in the busyness of the season with the expectations of gift-giving, party attending, volunteering and decorating. There’s nothing wrong with any of those activities, but squeezing all of it into the normal routine can seem daunting at times.
Even the most balanced and calm among us have the potential to get swallowed up by the demands of the season, but thankfully, there are also plenty of ways to stay grounded.
Licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Kelley M. Williams of the Krist Samaritan Counseling Center shared some simple suggestions to help you keep your cool this holiday season.
It Starts At Home
One of the simplest ways to de-stress, in any season, is by decluttering and organizing your home. In this case, the best time to do it is before you drag out any holiday decorations. Home should be a refuge, not a place of stress. Taking time to create a clean, orderly environment will reinforce the fact that it’s a safe, comforting and quiet space. It will also create an easier space to decorate.
Just as our homes are places to refresh and relax, our social environments are places to recharge with interactions and support. Schedule “me” time to do something that helps you relieve stress. It can be as simple as a 20-minute walk through the neighborhood to admire the lights or taking time to listen to your favorite podcast. The important part is being intentional, scheduling the time and following through.
Next is the “we” time, which refers to time as a couple. If you’re in a relationship, stress can cause friction and additional strain, which is why quality time together is especially important this time of year. Sync up your schedules, do something fun and enjoy one another’s company. You’ll be happy you did.
“Us” time — as you’ve probably guessed by now — involves the whole family (if that applies, of course). Go to a weekend breakfast to talk about work and school, hit up the park with a kite in tow or just plan a family movie night and keep things simple. The important aspect of all three is to be deliberate, set time aside and make quality time a priority.
Set any goals using the SMART method. S for specific and clearly defined, as in “I will buy the Christmas tree in a way that gives me plenty of time to decorate it.” M for measurable, for example, “I will buy the Christmas tree by December 3.” A for achievable, “I feel confident that I can make time to buy a Christmas tree without feeling overwhelmed.” R for relevant: “It’s the holiday season, and I enjoy decorating my home with a Christmas tree.” T for timely: “I set the goal of buying a Christmas tree around Thanksgiving, and bought the tree not long after.”