It can be one of the most stressful times of year, especially when it comes to our relationships. We have more tasks to get done, we’re pulled in multiple directions, we want to make everything perfect, and we tend to lash out at those closest to us.
Here are 9 tips to make sure you maintain healthy relationships and have an enjoyable holiday season this year:
Have realistic expectations
The biggest mistake many of us make is wanting to have everything perfect and create the best holiday ever. Whether it’s the food, the decorations or the holiday gifts, you probably have something that is your favorite part of the season. I have a friend who puts up eight Christmas trees in her house every year. My mother enjoys cooking the holiday meals for our family.
If it’s something you enjoy doing, then keep up the tradition. If you find yourself stressed out and snapping at everyone, then it may be time to tone it down. More than likely, your family doesn’t care about it nearly as much as you do. They would be happy with less extravagance if it means you are able to fully enjoy the holiday season.
Ask for help
I am a control freak. I am the worst at asking for help when I get overwhelmed by all the things I need to accomplish. Your family and friends would rather help you than see you stressed. You can actually spend quality time with friends and relatives by asking them to pitch in with holiday traditions. Kids especially like to feel they are part of the festivities. You may even be able to create new traditions.
Say thank you
When you’re in “get it all done” mode, you may forget to show others your appreciation. Go out of your way to thank your spouse, kids, family members and friends when they do something for you. You may assume they know they are appreciated, but it’s always nice to hear “thank you.”
Set your priorities
Decide what is most important to you. I used to make handmade Christmas cards to send to family and friends. I loved creating the card design and putting them together. I would get together with friends, and we would visit and work on our cards. At some point, I began to dread doing my holiday cards. The stress of getting the cards done outweighed the joy of sending cards, so I stopped doing it.
You have to prioritize what is most important to you and make sure you have the time to do it all. If you don’t, then cut back. Your spouse and children will be much happier about living in the same house with you.
Divide and conquer
During the holiday season, we have more events to attend. You may have work commitments, gatherings with friends, and family festivities. On top of that, you and your partner may not necessarily like attending each other’s events. Your spouse may have an annual party with his old college friends, and you may like to trim the tree at your grandparents’ house. It’s okay to go to events by yourself if it will eliminate relationship stress. Or, you can take separate cars so that one of you can leave earlier.
Make family time count
It’s so easy to get caught up in running everywhere and fitting in as many activities as possible. You may forget to include some downtime into your schedule. Plan an evening to hang out at home watching movies with popcorn and candy. Go out to eat and give the cook a break. Have family game night. Your family should know they are the most important part of the holiday season.
Learn to say no
It’s hard for many of us to say “no,” especially during the holiday season. You feel like you’re a bad person if you don’t help out with the annual office party, neighborhood charity event or holiday program at your kids’ school. You can say no. Think about your priorities and decide what you can do without sacrificing quality time with your family and your own happiness. If you feel anxiety instead of joy and excitement, then politely decline.
Spend time with friends
Our friends can give us a reality check. Set aside time to hang out with your good friends during the holiday season. Not only is it fun, but they will also be honest with you and help you decide what matters and what to let go. And, spending time with friends is just good for your health.
Give yourself a break
If you start to feel overwhelmed by your to-do list and responsibilities, give yourself a break. Set aside some time to do something you enjoy. You can take a walk, go for a drive, window shop or play with your kids. Just give yourself a break so that you can relax and recharge.
The stress of the holiday season can strain our relationships. Cut yourself some slack and remember to take the time to balance your commitments with maintaining healthy relationships with your family and friends.