It's a little hard to think about Christmas when it's going to be 75 degrees today here in Ohio. But some of you live in areas where that's a norm, so I guess we'll just move past temperature and look at another way to destress Christmas: thinking through the needs of your family and friends. By using this as a filter, you can reduce some holiday stress. Here are a few ideas:
- Choose with whom you want to spend time over the holidays - friends or family who refresh, encourage, and cheer you. Take the initiative to make that happen.
Do you have friends who might be alone whom you could include in your holiday plans? Have you included a healthy amount of giving to others who might otherwise be neglected? Your heart will overflow with joy as you reach out to others! It doesn't need to be expensive, just something that says you're thinking about them.
If getting together with your relatives is too painful or unhealthy, give yourself permission not to attend. If you, your spouse, or your children might be subjected to verbal, emotional or physical abuse, don't put yourselves in this unsafe place. Even if it hurts others' feelings, you cannot condone unhealthy or painful treatment by attending.
- Consider family problems when planning gatherings. Be proactive in order to minimize Uncle John's drinking problem by having a brunch rather than a dinner. If Cousin Sally's conversation is predominantly negative or a never-ending flow, plan some conversation starters or games to reduce her dominance.
- If it's just too difficult for you to travel during the holidays, don't let others guilt-trip you into traveling anyway. Be honest and stick to your guns for your own benefit and that of your family. Invite your relatives to visit you (if that is better for you) or suggest another time of year for a visit when life is less hectic.
- Consider the needs of your nuclear family. If you have small children who need naps and a consistent bedtime (who doesn’t qualify for that one?!!), don’t overschedule. Make sure the events you plan to attend are age appropriate for your children. Don’t have an unrealistic idea of what they can grasp and endure.
- Study your family. Know what delights each one and what stresses each one, including yourself. Plan accordingly. When our girls were small, one of our daughters would respond to an overplanned schedule by vomiting - a pretty clear message! (Sorry to be graphic.) So I had to be careful not to pack our schedule too tightly.
One of our daughters loved to help my husband get the tree in the stand and put the lights on. The other one did not! So we did not include it as a family event, but chose other things they both liked, like the Christmas Eve service at our church.
By anticipating your needs and those of your family and friends, you can be intentional about your holidays. You’ll be able to weed out those items that don’t fit, plan around potential hazards, and create memorable experiences for those you love.
More on Christmas: