Are your holidays full of relaxation and quality time with family? If not, you’re not alone. In fact, 90 percent of Americans who completed a survey indicated that they feel stress during the holidays and 24 percent experience difficulty with family members. If you’re looking for ways to reduce holiday stress and create warm memories with your family, follow these seven recommendations.
1. Focus on the Positive
What do you remember from the holidays last year? Your uncle’s incessant jokes? Your family asleep in front of the television? Don’t dwell on negative memories from previous holidays. Instead, focus on experiences you enjoy. The fabulous meals. Reconnecting with family. Not having to cook. Consistently maintain a positive mindset; your thoughts can become your reality.
2. Let Go of the Past
Pretend you are a newcomer to your own family. Approach them with curiosity and excitement. Forget past transgressions, arguments, and tears. You are not condoning past wrongs by letting them go; you are just saying they cannot hurt you anymore.
3. Maintain Your Routine
As much as possible, maintain your typical sleeping, eating, and exercise schedules. Your vitality can be weakened by changes in routine, which can lead to feelings of anxiety or irritation. Making time for yourself can help you stay peaceful and grounded, regardless of what your family members do or say.
4. Hold Realistic Expectations
If you become frustrated that the holidays aren’t going according to plan, remember that there is no such thing as a perfect family or perfect holiday, regardless of what you see on television or social media. Your family is in your life for a reason. What can you learn from them? See every interaction as a growth opportunity—even during the most frustrating, dysfunctional moments.
5. Stay in the Present
What is the best gift you could give to yourself and others at your holiday gathering? Being present. Set your intention to focus on the moment, and catch yourself if you begin to think about past holiday problems. Your family will not be on this earth forever. Cultivate appreciation for their presence in your life at the moment.
6. Make Clear Requests
Your family often won’t know what’s important to you unless you voice it. If you would like to say grace before a meal, then simply ask, “Would you mind if I ask for a blessing before we eat?” Clearly stating your needs can help to reduce holiday stress and develop closer family ties. Encourage your family members to do the same, whether it be creating clear boundaries around topics that are discussed, alcohol consumption, or the duration of the family gathering.
7. Start Family Holiday Traditions
Creating family traditions can help make holidays more fun. Make your own, or try these three ideas:
- Share gratitude. Each year, organize a time when your family sits down to share what they love about the holidays, or about individual members of the family.
- Photograph happy moments. Take photos during good family times, and revisit them to remember how great the holidays can actually be.
- Plan the holidays together. Work as a team to create a vision for the upcoming holidays; encourage each family member to participate in a fun way. Clearly dividing the work can help everyone feel like they’re contributing and can diminish conflict.