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5 Tips to Keep Your Cool During the Holidays

How do you stay calm and collected during the hectic holidays? Festivities can be a stressful time for many people. There's a whirlwind of activities, the rush to get everything done, the pressure to have a perfect Christmas, and the added anxiety of being around family members.

No wonder it can be a lot to handle. Fortunately, you can use some simple tips to keep your cool during the festive season to ensure you enjoy it to the fullest. Here are five of them.

1. Remember What's Important

The first tip to staying calm during the holidays is remembering what's important—that is, Christmas isn't about having the perfect decorations or spending the most money on presents; it's about being with family and enjoying each other's company. Moreover, the New Year is a chance to start fresh and plan for the future.

Keeping your focus on the things that truly matter can help you maintain perspective and appreciate the holidays for what they really are. Also, remember that there are many ways to celebrate and concentrate on experiences instead of material goods.

You are not confined to one specific way of celebrating. You are not obligated to follow all of the traditions passed down from generation to generation that may not fit your current lifestyle. 

Instead, you can create new ones that speak to who you are and what is important to you. Consider doing the following to focus on the meaningful aspects of the holidays:

  • Set aside an hour or two each day to spend with family, and make sure it's quality time
  • Have a game night, or talk about your favorite holiday memories
  • Go for a walk together to enjoy the lights around town
  • Take a moment each day to appreciate the simple moments of joy

If you ever find yourself feeling overwhelmed, you can always take a few moments to get centered. Distance yourself from the situation that's becoming difficult, and go to a breathing space. Take a few moments to breathe deeply and clear your mind. Then, when you feel ready, return to the situation with a calmer mindset.

2. Prioritize and Set Realistic Expectations

The holidays can be overwhelming because of the sheer magnitude of tasks that need to get done. To make things harder, the holidays stretch for a month, so it's essential to prioritize and set realistic expectations for yourself.

Start by making a list of what you need to do; this will help break your tasks into manageable chunks. What are the most important ones you need to get done, and which ones can wait until after the holidays?

Make a list of what you need to do. Then, set realistic goals and deadlines for each task, using a calendar to keep track of due dates. You can also delegate tasks to family members or hire help if needed.

These are a few other pointers that can help you stay on track:

If you are hosting a party:

  • Decide what type of food and drinks you'll serve
  • Set up a shopping list
  • Plan out the menu at least a week in advance
  • Break down large tasks into smaller steps, such as making a budget for presents or setting up decorations
  • Schedule time to wrap and mail presents

If you are traveling:

  • Plan your route and estimate the time it will take to get there
  • If you're traveling by air, check the airport's policies and book your flight early
  • Pack light and stick to the essentials
  • Make sure you have all of the necessary travel documents

Finally, be mindful of what you're taking on. Expecting too much from yourself can lead to stress and burnout. Therefore, understand that you won't be able to do everything and that it's okay. Don't try to overdo anything or spread yourself too thin.

Here are some things to help you set realistic expectations:

  • Make a list of the most important tasks, and be okay with not doing the rest
  • Don't try to please everyone; you don't have to make everyone happy
  • Accept that there will be some mistakes and things may not go according to plan
  • Realize that the holidays are stressful for everyone, not just you

3. Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

When it comes to life, it is important not to let the small stuff get you down. This mantra is also true when it comes to keeping your cool during the holidays. Of course, it can be difficult to ignore the little annoyances and obstacles that arise, but try to keep them in perspective.

Focus on the bigger picture rather than getting caught up in the details. This means looking beyond the momentary frustrations and seeing the beauty of the holidays. Don't let a minor mishap ruin your day; take it in stride and adjust as needed.

Dealing with Holiday Things and Events

For example, if you're planning a holiday party and something goes awry, don't let it ruin the evening. Acknowledge the mistake, find a solution and move on. Or, if you're traveling for the holidays and your flight gets delayed, don't let it ruin your trip. Roll with the punches and find a way to make the best of it.

Practicing gratitude is a great way to avoid getting caught up in the small stuff. Instead of stressing on the things that don't go as planned, take a few moments to appreciate the little joys of the holidays. Whether it's spending time with family, celebrating traditions, or baking cookies, focus on what you are thankful for.

Other helpful techniques are practicing mindfulness and taking breaks throughout the day. Grabbing a few moments to pause and breathe will help you manage your stress and prevent yourself from getting too worked up about minor issues. Likewise, scheduling some downtime to do something enjoyable. Recharging your batteries will help you stay calm and focused so you can tackle the tasks at hand.

Dealing with Difficult Family Members or Friends

Unfortunately, avoiding family drama and other awkward interactions during the holidays can be challenging. There are inevitable disputes and subtle tensions that come up during reunions and gatherings. Not to mention the dreaded conversations with that distant relative or family member who always seems to have something negative to say.

When it comes to dealing with difficult family members or friends, the best approach is to stay as neutral and calm as possible. Try to find a way to disengage from the situation, and don't get too involved in whatever drama unfolds. 

Also, keep your cool and focus on being a good listener. Remember to be respectful and practice patience even if you don't agree with someone's opinion or behavior.

Talk about shared interests and focus on the holiday season's positive aspects. It may also help to have a few go-to topics that you can use to steer the conversation toward neutral discussions. Plus, you can avoid issues that may cause an argument or lead to an uncomfortable conversation.

Finally, remember to set boundaries and practice self-care. If you find yourself in a situation where someone makes you feel uncomfortable or stressed out, don't be afraid to remove yourself from the spot. Take a breather and find a way to cool off, such as going for a walk or taking a break in another room. But if all else fails, it's okay to leave the gathering if it becomes too much.

The holidays are a time to appreciate all the important people in our lives and find common ground. It's okay if not everyone gets along or sees eye-to-eye. Even if you feel overwhelmed at times or find yourself in an uncomfortable situation, stay mindful and take each moment as it comes.

At the end of the day, nothing should ruin your holiday season. Problematic situations and demanding individuals may be hard to dodge, but having a plan of action can help you stay calm and in control. Remember that the holidays come only once a year, so make the most of it and enjoy yourself.

4. Give Yourself a Break

Don't put too much pressure on yourself. The holiday season is often full of activities and social obligations, but it's important to give yourself a break. Balance work, family, and social commitments with relaxation, self-care, and some much-needed "me time."

Granted, it can be tempting to take on more projects or tasks than you can handle. However, trying to do too much is a surefire way to feel overwhelmed and exhausted. You might end up with a holiday season filled with stress, fatigue, and disappointment.

To prevent this from happening, take time for yourself to relax and enjoy. After all, the holidays are supposed to be a time of joy and warmth. Find ways to unwind, such as:

  • Taking a nap
  • Watching a movie
  • Reading a book
  • Going outdoors for a walk or run
  • Listening to music
  • Doing yoga or other forms of exercise
  • Spending time with your pet
  • Engaging in a creative activity such as drawing, writing, or painting

Allowing yourself to take a break and unplug from the holiday hustle and bustle is essential for a successful and enjoyable holiday season. So, set aside some time each day just for yourself and take advantage of small moments when you can relax and recharge.

The holidays should be a time for reflection and appreciation rather than stress and exhaustion. Make sure to give yourself the break you need to enjoy the many moments ahead.

5. Learn to Say No

The holiday season often comes with an onslaught of demands and expectations from yourself, as well as from family and friends. It can sometimes be overwhelming, so it's important to know when to step back.

Learning how to say no is an essential part of surviving the holidays. It's okay to decline an invitation or put your foot down if something is too much to handle. Doing so will help you avoid taking on more than you can manage while preventing burnout.

If someone asks for too much of your time and energy, it's okay to set boundaries and tell them that you need some space. You can also be honest about your feelings and explain why it's hard for you to commit.

It's also important to remember that it's okay to say no to yourself. Don't set unrealistic expectations or take on more than you can handle. If something feels wrong, feel free to take a step back and listen to your gut.

The following are some tips to help you practice saying "no":

  • Start small. Practice saying no in low-stakes situations, such as declining an invitation to a party or turning down a last-minute request for help.
  • Be assertive. Stand tall and look the person in the eye when explaining your decision.
  • Stay on message. Stick to your point and be firm about your decision so that people don't try to persuade you.
  • Be respectful. Don't forget that the other person may feel just as overwhelmed as you, so try to be understanding.

Learning to say no is an important skill that can help you get through the holiday season unscathed. Remember that taking a break and putting your needs first is okay. Saying no is not selfish; it's self-care.

Bonus Tip: Be Kind to Yourself

Above all else, the most important thing is to be kind to yourself. The holiday season can be a time of great joy, but it can also be a time of heightened emotions and stress. Don't forget to be patient and give yourself some much-needed love and compassion.

The bottom line is it's okay to make mistakes. It's important to remember that you are doing enough and that your best is equally enough. So take some time to relax and practice mindfulness, focus on the things that bring you joy, and engage in activities that make you happy.

The holiday season should be a time of self-care, so give yourself the gift of kindness. Be gentle, and don't be too hard on yourself. The more you practice self-care and compassion, the easier it will be to manage your emotions during this festive time of year.

Wrapping Up

The holidays are a time of joy and celebration, but can also be overwhelming. If you feel overwhelmed or stressed this time of year, Jackson House can help you manage your emotions and get through the season unscathed. Contact us at (888) 255-9280 for more tips and resources to help you make the most of your holiday season.

About the author

Jackson House

Jackson House

We built Jackson House because we realized there was a critical gap in our healthcare system and many individuals with mental illnesses and substance abuse problems were struggling because of it. While there are many outpatient treatment options and locked, inpatient facilities there was nothing in the middle. Nothing to help people who needed around the clock care but wanted to receive treatment voluntarily, on their own terms. Jackson House is different. We provide clients with the level of care they need in a welcoming environment. When you walk through our doors, we will meet you wherever you’re at and help you on your journey toward feeling better.

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