6 Holiday Survival Tips: How to Reduce Stress

CafeMoms are awesome. Especially parentsworkshops, also known as Stacy Schwed. She's a busy mom of two, and she's also a therapist. Everyday, she helps parents work through challenging emotional issues at CafeMom and in her private practice as a clinical social worker.

Stacy has some great advice for those of us who are freaking out over the holidays.

Here are her 6 holiday survival tips to reduce the stress and anxiety we're all feeling right now.

  • Realize there is no such thing as perfect. Whether it is the need to host the perfect gathering, to please every family member, buy everyone the perfect gift, or the desire to have everything be simply marvelous, you need to ease up on yourself and be realistic. You are placing these expectations on yourself, and they not only create feelings of pressure, stress, and anxiety, but they also tend to bring on conflict, depression, and disappointment.
  • Exercise acceptance. Every family comes with some dysfunction and conflict. Always remember that this is not your fault, nor do you have the power to change anyone. Accept each member of the family for who they are. Know that some conflict is normal and don’t fear it.  Knowing each person for what they are all about helps you to remove their behavior from yourself. Never take their actions personally.
  • See your financial reality. You are under no obligation to give what you can’t afford to give. It is a time of acknowledging others and sending warm wishes. Know exactly what you can afford to spend and who you would like to give a gift to. Small, inexpensive gifts are great.  Baking cookies or even just a card is great too. If there are some friends who you know are on a tight budget, suggest that perhaps you don’t exchange gifts this year. Plan some quality time together instead. You are not a bad mother if you can’t afford everything on your child's wish list.
  • Practice time management. Don’t wait until the last minute for shopping, wrapping, baking, or travel plans. Be realistic about the time you have available to you weekly and make a schedule where you can accomplish a little at a time. Don’t cram it in where there isn’t enough time left to accomplish what needs to get done. That tends to add more pressure, stress, anxiety, and irritability.
  • Validate feelings. Understand, accept, and validate the whirlwind of emotions that this time of year may elicit for you. Financial pressure, time management, family stresses, or even some old memories, thoughts, missing loved ones who have passed--the holidays can bring on so many feelings. That is normal...and it is okay to have these feelings.
  • Remember YOU! Be kind to yourself! Remember that you are only human. What will make this time special for you? How do you want to spend the holidays? Who do you want to see? That’s right, moms, YOU are important too!  It’s always okay to nurture your needs….as a matter of fact, it’s essential. You need to be a healthy person to be a healthy parent, so take care of you.

To get more advice from Stacy, check out her group, Ask a Therapist.

What is your biggest stress this holiday season?

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