Four Ways to Say “Bah Humbug” to Holiday Stress

Woman with hands to her face wearing a Santa Claus hat and looking out the window.

The holidays are most notably known for togetherness, family, food, fun and laughter. To many people, however, the holidays can bring about an unbelievable amount of stress, sadness and despair.

A survey by the American Psychological Association found that 38 percent of people felt their stress levels increased during the holiday season. Stress has the potential to lead to an increased risk of illness, substance misuse, and higher rates of mental health struggles such as anxiety and depression.

For people struggling to manage holiday stress, there are practical alternatives that can help make the season enjoyable, according to Monarch experts.

Lower your expectations.

In moments of disappointment, ask yourself if the moment itself is bad or if it is only bad because you expected something else.

“A teen heading out with friends instead of languishing at the dinner table with grandparents isn’t necessarily bad, it’s only bad in comparison to the vision in your head of the extended family playing cards together all night,” Monarch therapists share. “Take a breath. Remind yourself that fighting about it will make it worse. Bid your son or daughter farewell and nestle in to enjoy the family who is there instead of fuming about who isn’t.”

Prepare less. Enjoy more.

All that time spent preparing is bound to be unrecognized and unrewarded, with the potential to plunge you into a bad mood, or even worse, and an ugly tantrum. Cut back on your to do list.

“Do only what you most need and want to feel festive – and not a drop more. No cleaning out coat closets when you can toss coats on the bed. Don’t clean the carpets because people won’t notice! Relax and enjoy your own party,” Monarch providers advise. Try using this visual and put yourself in your guest’s shoes. They are so thrilled to not be hosting at their house that they will be very tolerant of yours!”

Carve out a little time for yourself.

You only see these folks once a year, so you feel compelled to spend every moment together, but there is no holiday rule book that says you are obligated. You need to recharge during the busy holiday season. Take a walk, call a friend or take a long bath. Even one hour to yourself can help make all that togetherness more tolerable.

Stop trying to please everyone.

The mother-in-law or aunt who never seems satisfied will never be satisfied so, stop trying. We waste valuable energy on the few friends or family members who are high maintenance and unhappy.

“Let them figure out how to make the holidays work for them. If they’re not happy, there was nothing lost. They weren’t going to be happy anyway and at least they didn’t bring you down with them,” Monarch therapists note.

Posted on: Tuesday November 22, 2022