Stress-free holiday: Don’t be fooled by these holiday myths

December 13th, 2011

Stress-free holiday, is it possible?

There are myths about the holiday that have been ingrained in our belief systems that stem from family narratives, media portrayals, and influences from those around us. Sadly, you will feel overwhelmed, stressed out, not good enough, and flat out frazzled if you buy into these beliefs. So for your own personal well-being, and the emotional health of those around you, I uncover the top four holiday myths.

1. It needs to be perfect-
I was watching TV and Christmas Vacation, the movie, came on. I hadn’t seen it since the 80’s, so I watched and laughed out loud at all the silliness in the movie. What I found interesting is that “Clark”, the dad, was so focused on having a perfect Christmas, with the “perfect” lighting display, that he lost sight of his imperfect family. Do you do that? Get all caught up in the shoulds, how things should look, how the kids should behave, how the holiday should go. When you create high expectation and try to control the outcome you are truly setting yourself up for being disappointed.

2. You must go to everything you are invited to-
There are so many events and parties this time of year, it is impossible to keep up with it all- nor should you!  It is healthy to set boundaries and say NO, and by doing this you can model it for your children. Here’s something simple you can do: Pick one or two events/party, per person, during the holidays. So, outside of school performances, you can ask your child what 1 thing they want to go to, and schedule it. For yourself and your spouse pick 1-2 that are important. If you are fearful of disappointing someone or hurting their feelings, let them know that you and you family have created a new tradition, and you are honoring that.

3. You should be with family, no matter what-
Let’s all be real here, there are family members who are not healthy to be around. They make choices and say things you don’t agree with. These toxic people are hard to deal with when you are in a good healthy emotional space. However, during the holidays most people are not in a good healthy state, instead they are running on empty, trying to get it all done. Of course when you are depleted it’s harder to act rational, not be reactive, and keep your sanity. If you are going to choose to be around unhealthy family members set boundaries. You can decide to meet them out for lunch, so you can be there and leave if they start to act in a way that’s offensive. You can limit your exposure by visiting them, so you are in control of how long you stay, or you can use this as an opportunity to let them know because of ______, you feel ________, and you are asking them to _____________.

4. You have too high expectations of other people’s behaviors-
Similar to perfectionism, having high expectations for other people’s behavior during this time of the year is unrealistic. Adults are stressed and children are over stimulated and excited, so expecting others to act a certain way or for things to go a certain way will cause you unnecessary worry and stress. This time of year expect more melt-downs and acting out from those around you if you are focusing on doing so much and trying to have everything be “just right”.

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