As we head towards the holiday season, stress starts to build about all the obligations we have to fill. Whether it’s Thanksgiving, Bodhi Day, Yule, Hanukkah, Pancha Ganapati, Christmas or the New Year, it seems like there is an endless list of events, and family and friends to see.
So how do you survive the season without completely burning out and burning bridges? Being emotionally prepared is the best way to tackle this time of year head on. It means that no matter what you face (or who), you can stay grounded, care for your health and actually enjoy the season.
Here are eight ways you can emotionally prepare for the holidays.
1. Plan everything out
Take out a diary or calendar before December, and write in every event you have coming up. Note down work parties, family events, the date family flies in and out, the nights people are coming over for dinner, and the days you have time to go shopping for food and gifts.
2. Decorate early
If your holiday celebrations generally include decorating the house, start early while you still have time. Make it a family activity, and you’ll have a great time while also easing the burden of having to make the holidays picture-perfect when you have a million other things to do.
3. Get over your FOMO
It seems like there is something happening every day in December, but if you want to have a healthy and enjoyable holiday season, you need to get over your FOMO (fear of missing out). You can’t do everything, and you shouldn’t. Make a list of all your activities, and mark down what you have to go to, what you want to attend, and what can be missed.
4. Pre-plan difficult conversations
Aunty Edna and cousin Jack have differing political opinions, and your mother in-law starts to cry anytime conflict comes to the fore. It would be lovely to avoid these conflicts, but we know that is nearly impossible. Instead, pre plan what you will say to ease the tension if a contentious topic comes up.
5. Get a wing man or woman
Parties and celebrations are always easier when you have someone to bail you out of awkward and stressful situations. Whether it’s a work party, a family dinner or casual BBQ, ask your partner, colleague, friend or another family member to step in on your conversation, or whisk you away for an ‘emergency’.
6. Make time to veg out
It’s impossible to go full throttle all through December, so give yourself permission to chill and zone out when needed. Watch your favourite TV show, exercise, meditate or read a book. Your mind and body need to disengage from the stress, so give them time to do so.
7. Stop feeling guilty
There’s so much to feel guilty about over the holidays. You don’t invite the right people to the party, you accidentally offend a parent, and you consume a year’s worth of junk food in a matter of days. You need to consciously put a stop to your guilt every time it comes up. Try using self-talk like, “I don’t have to be perfect,” “I am a good person,” and “My worth is not determined by the food I eat.”
8. See a counsellor
The holiday season allows a lot of our deeper issues to rise to the surface. Isolation, depression, family trauma and stress all rear their heads this time of year, and that’s okay. Take the opportunity to speak to a counsellor or confidant as the season begins so you can emotionally prepare for the month ahead.