I don’t know anyone who is not feeling greater stress during this time of year. Even terrific moments with people we love can cause us stress, and that’s if family and extended family are individuals we WANT to see. It’s even more stressful if we are acting out of obligation.
Whatever your circumstances, it’s likely there will be at least a few people who drive us up a wall and cause us enormous stress. Welcome to the holidays. Not to mention the numerous details: buying gifts, decorating, baking, cooking sending cards, and trying to be a loving person on top of all that.
I’m stressed just writing about it. Let’s just acknowledge it; Holidays are HARD! And they can be much harder if you turn against the one person who is your rock 90 percent of the time, your partner. Think right now what a good team you make during a crisis. Now ask yourself if you are pulling your hair out and fighting more than usual with your mate?
During the rest of the year you probably lean on your partner when you feel stressed or worried or have a problem. But something happens during the holidays and a lot of our good coping skills go right out the window. I know mine did during Thanksgiving.
I was feeling stress and pressure regarding a family member. But instead of talking about it with my partner I got mad at him and started a little fight. We went to bed sulking too. The next morning I said I was sorry and then asked if we could remind ourselves of something important.
“We are good together. We can weather anything. We can’t let our families and the events pull us apart. We have to remain strong. Together we can get through this.” Well I didn’t say it exactly like that but that was the point I was making. He agreed, said he was sorry, and the two of us not only sailed through the holiday but I was actually able to see him in a new light and admire his strength.
When I watched him prepare the meal I imagined him like a duck on a pond, his feet moving as if he was swimming underwater, but his demeanor was cool and calm as ever. When I saw his stance I felt his energy and I too knew all would be well, and it was. We leaned on each other. We remembered how good we are as a couple. Why not reconsider your mate? Reconnect and solidify your relationship before you break.
Another tip for surviving the holidays has to do with taking stock of yourself and what you do well. All of us do something well during this time of year. I thought of this when I was wrapping a few gifts. I do this way better than my partner so I always get the job. In the past I have looked at it as just that, a job. But this year I actually took pride in turning out some pretty packages. I really heard his “OOhs and AAhs when I showed him too.
I liked the feedback, but I felt a lot of pride before that. Find your pride in what you do well. Maybe you are a wonderful baker. Maybe you are the decorator or the cook, or the one who coordinates and drives. Maybe you have rearranged your home to make room for guests. You are doing something for others and there are probably some tasks and chores that you do that you are extremely good at.
Find one or more and when you perform it take a moment to appreciate yourself. You are doing something well and it is a contribution to everyone. You are part of something bigger than yourself and you are important. Take stock of it. You deserve to.
And finally one more idea to feel less stressed during the holidays. Try some APPRECIATION. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t enjoy feeling appreciated. All of us crave to be valued by another. Sharing words of appreciation express this value. It may seem small, but the impact can be huge.
In my practice as a couples counselor, one of the most common issues I deal with is people not knowing if they are valuable to their partner. Don’t let the people you care about wonder if you find them valuable. Let them know. There are lots of opportunities, especially during this time of year. It’s a gift to others and it may be one of the most important things you can give.
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