Holidays can be fantastic but for many people family holidays and gatherings during the Christmas period can be an extremely stressful time. We all want to have a good time, relax, feel the love and not feel stressed. What can you do to survive, de-stress and enjoy this Christmas family holiday period?
Tips to de-stress during a family holiday this Christmas
Why do we get stressed during a family holiday?
Family gatherings have the amazing ability to bring out old hurts, reopen wounds and drag up grudges. Families also have the amazing ability of pushing your buttons. There is no wonder that you begin to feel yourself become stressed, irritable, tired and grumpy during family holidays.
Identify what is making you feel stressed
The first step to de-stress on a family holiday is to take a step back and consider what is making you feel stressed. Identifying the problem will help you can find a solution. Do your siblings nitpick? Does your mother-in-law criticise your parenting style?
Do your siblings nitpick from the time you walk though the door? Consider redirecting the conversation to something you both enjoy.
Does your mother-in-law criticize your parenting style? Accepting criticism is hard and can be hurtful, particularly when they come from people we love. As difficult as it is, try not to take criticism personally and know you are doing a good job and know your kids better than anyone else.
Talk to your partner
Prior to holidaying with family it is a good idea to talk with your partner frankly about expectations, needs and wants over the holiday period. Talk about strategies to make the holiday good and also troubleshooting tips for if things go pear shaped.
While on holidays make sure you keep talking to resolve any disputes quickly and try not to take out your frustration, anger and resentment that you may feel on your partner. Remember you are in this together and need to support one another.
Sometimes when we feel stressed we pull away either physically and/or emotionally. How about a hug or a smooch to reconnect with your beloved or do something special for them? This will help you both feel more connected and may help to reduce the stress until you are back at home.
Set a budget for presents, food and entertainment
Sit down with your partner and work out what you can afford to spend this Christmas to reduce stress and hopefully save a few dollars in the process. Remember to budget for:
- gifts (who for and amount of money you want to spend per person)
- food and drinks for the Christmas – New Years period and any special events
- entertainment (date nights, family/kids activities etc)
- holiday expenses (accommodation, fuel, entertainment, food and drinks etc).
The power of saying no
The Christmas period can be a bus time filled with end of year school events, work parties, BBQs with friends and Christmas/New Years celebrations. When travelling it can also be filled with family events and expectations. Going to or hosting parties are great but the volume can become exhausting. Remember it is ok to say no. Choose which events you want to go to or host and do not over do it or you will risk becoming drained, tired and cranky. Why not limit the number you go to? Or have only a few friends over rather than hoard you invited last year? The other option is hold an event mid January when things have settled down.
Exercise is good for the body, mind and will help relax you particularly when you are on holiday. When you are feeling stressed, go for a walk, run, do a hundred sit-ups, yoga, zumba, star jumps or dance in the lounge room like no one is watching! The endorphins released during exercise will make you feel good and help to relax you.
Let go of the inner perfectionist
It is ok if you burn dinner in your holiday accommodation – buy a packet salad mix a BBQ chicken or takeaway.
It’s ok if you forgot to pack your children’s favourite story book – go to a bookshop/newsagency and buy a new one (call it a special holiday book and make it fun) or invent your own story before bedtime (if the shops are closed!).
The bottom line is, if it goes pear shaped, make an adventure out of it. Dry your eyes and know that you are doing a great job!
Stop and breathe – take time out and recharge the batteries
It is ok if you are staying with family have some space and take the kids to the park, go for a walk or picnic and spend time together, no matter how hard this may be on your family. The break will be good for your family. Remember kids need a break from the constant attention as well, particularly if you live interstate/internationally away from your family and they are not used to the constant attention.
I hope you have a great holiday and manage to limit or manage the stress! Try and find those special moments to enjoy!