Finding an appropriate balance during the holiday season is key.
Everyone feels a little-added stress around the holidays. Whether it is the financial burden associated with the season of giving, or time constraints when dealing with travel and fitting in visits with family; the holidays can be very complicated. Luckily, experts at Kootenai Health offered suggestions for both coping with and preventing stress this holiday season.
Keep it simple, keep it real
“Some people are more resistant to fluctuating stress levels and can slide right through,” said Char Harris, NP, Behavioral Health Services. “However some people are more vulnerable and may struggle through times of stress.”
Char said there are several ways to prepare for the holidays and reduce the number of stressors to which we are exposed. She believes the key is to start planning earlier in the year and keep your celebrations and gift giving simple.
One way to reduce stress approaching the holiday season is to change your perspective.
“We live in a society where holidays are more about meeting expectations or continuing traditions and that can be hard,” Char said. “Most households require two fulltime incomes and it may not be realistic to expect one person to do all the meal preparation and hosting.”
She suggests instead, have the host prepare maybe one dish and ask that everyone else pitch in with the other sides. On the other hand, if there is not a simple solution to family gatherings, Char suggests changing the tradition and simplifying the way you celebrate.
For example, if gift giving is the cause of stress, it may not be reasonable to ask that everyone purchase gifts or open them all at the same time.
“Some members of a family may be able to afford large, expensive items and others may not,” she said. “In order to spare feelings, especially if children are involved, it may be better to just focus on the family gathering and appreciate being together.”
In order to set proper expectations for children, Char said to limit the amount of media children are exposed to approaching the holidays.
“Limiting ad exposure can help reduce the number of ‘wants’ they have,” she said. “We try to shift our traditions to focus on family and giving rather than getting. Have your child include a list of ‘wants’ for others rather than just for themselves.”
Changing perspective or complicated traditions and focusing on the real meaning of the holidays all help Char and her family to “keep it simple and keep it real.”
“It’s okay to evolve tradition,” Char said. “You just have to give yourself permission to change and create the holiday experience that’s best for you and your family.