“Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas means a little bit more” says The Grinch in Dr. Seuss’ classic tale. This holiday sentiment rings even truer this year given the recent tradgedies at Newtown, CT and the devestation wrought by hurricaine Sandy. I imagine that many of us will hold our loved ones a little bit closer this holiday. However, it is all too easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle of the season. Finding the perfect gift (even if it means scouring several stores at all hours of the night to find this years must-have item) often becomes the focus of the holiday season. The pressure to create the “perfect” holiday can create stress and anxiety. Here are some tips to help manage holiday stress so that you can spend more time enjoying the true meaning of the holiday season.
1. Don’t try to create prefection. Finding the perfect gift, cooking the perfect holiday meal, hosting the perfect party; when you aim for perfection you will usually fall short leading to feelings of disappointment, failure, worry, and sadness. These feelings may trigger overeating or other maladaptive coping behaviors. Try to practice acceptance. You weren’t able to snag Let’s Rock Elmo at the mall? Instead of catastrophizing that Christmas/ Hannukah/ Kwanzaa/ Festivus has been ruined, take a few breaths and try to accept the current situation. Has this turn of events really ruined the holiday? If so, okay, try to resolve the issue. But more likely, your family will be able to have an enjoyable and meaningful holiday without the toy. And they will appreciate your calm presence in contrast to the frazzled state that you would be in if you were out all night fighting your neighbor at the mall over the toy.