­­­Edmonton Psychologist | Tips To Prevent A Stressful Holiday

The holidays can be a very stressful time for individuals and families, admits Edmonton Psychologist Wanda Chevrette from ReDiscover Psychology. From high expectations, wanting things to be perfect, budget concerns, difficult family dynamics and additional activities and responsibilities. Add those stresses onto the regular stresses of life – job concerns, loss of loved ones, being alone, depression and anxiety other mental health concerns including seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Many people struggle to prevent a stressful holiday season. In fact, Edmonton psychologist reports that over half of Canadians report feeling stress, anxiety and depression during the festive season – 52% to be exact, according to Statistics Canada. However, there are many things you can do to help take the holiday burden off your shoulders and relieve some of your concerns so that you can have a more peaceful holiday season. Even if you only do a couple of the things mentioned in this article, you will have a smoother season.

Prevent A Stressful Holiday

Cut Yourself Some Slack

Give yourself permission to be delightfully imperfect. People, and their families put so much pressure on themselves and each other for things to be perfect. Give up the idea of perfection, it doesn’t exist says Wanda Chevrette, Edmonton psychologist at ReDiscover Psychology. Whatever that idea of perfect is, you can let it go. Even if you relinquish a few things this year, it can take a huge burden away, giving you more energy to focus on what’s truly important. You don’t need to buy the perfect gift, have perfect wrapping, have all the holiday baking done. Place the focus on enjoying the holiday. If something doesn’t give you joy? Nobody needs to give you permission to just not do it.

It’s also the time of year that we are often asked to put up with people that add further stress to our lives. Whether it’s unsupportive people, family who have caused scars in the past, people who are vocally critical of us and more. We’re often asked to tolerate their presence because they are family, and this is a special time of year. You can walk away from uncomfortable and abusive situations at any time.

Or feel free to not put yourself in the situation in the first place. Practice vocalizing your boundaries and be very clear. ‘If this person is abusive, I will leave’, and then follow through. While it may be hard to not follow traditions, your own joy and peace are worth so much more.

Have Someone To Talk To

Holidays can often be isolating. Not being able to go home for this special time of year, dealing with loss, or even having an unsupportive family can make this time of year very lonely. It’s very helpful to have someone you can talk to. Whether by phone, text, online or in person, it can make things less isolating. If it’s family, friends, members of your community or church, feeling connected to others, even if you’re alone can pause the isolating feelings. If you have a therapist, schedule an appointment close to the time of year that’s hardest. If you don’t have a psychologist or therapist yet, contact ReDiscover Psychology today to get started.

You can also reach out to many helplines that are available. Hotlines you can call or text, dealing with any issues, such as mental health help, addiction support, and other crises. Have these numbers written down, in your phone and ready in case the holiday stresses start pulling you down farther. Edmonton psychologist Chevrette says you are not alone, these services see an increase in use at this time of year, because they are needed. Knowing there are options can even be a source of comfort for many.

Edmonton Psychologist | Choose Budget Friendly Celebrations

The financial strain of the holidays is always a large trigger for many. People are often struggling just to make ends meet. Whether they aren’t making enough to pay for their expenses, being stressed with working multiple jobs, or out of work during this time of year, trying to make a holiday special can be a lot of financial pressure! From buying gifts, decorating, to making special meals and baking, even the pressure to buy holiday clothes, and do fun holiday activities can be so hard for families in a difficult financial place. But it doesn’t need to be that way.

A lot of people are choosing to turn away from the overly consumeristic nature of holiday celebrating, says Edmonton psychologist from ReDiscover Psychology. Instead choosing on making memories and spending time with each other. Especially when trying to make a memorable celebration for kids, what they remember most is spending time with family. Instead of spending a ton of money on presents, spend time, and make the memories that will last a lifetime.

Celebrating Doesn’t Need To Cost Money

Go outside and build a snowman, a snow fort or have a snowball fight. Make it special by building a fire, roasting marshmallows and sipping hot chocolate. Or stay in for a festive movie night! Family holiday favorite movies or shows, popcorn and snuggling under a warm and cozy blanket. Make crafts, bake together, read holiday stories to your children. Go for a walk to look at holiday lights. Ask your kids what they would like to do – you may be surprised at their innovative suggestions, and what small things it takes to make them happy!

As well, if you find the joy of festive celebrating comes from giving joy to others – and in this case, your children – especially when they are a bit older, let them experience that joy for themselves! Arrange for your family to volunteer for an organization close to your heart, bringing love, joy and hope to others.

It can also put into perspective what’s important during this time of year, and helping everyone appreciate what they have. Think of volunteering at Edmonton’s Food Bank, the Christmas Bureau of Edmonton, Youth Empowerment and Support Services, Hope Mission or the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation. You get the warm fuzzy feeling of helping others, while filling a much needed role at these institutions.

Spend Holidays Your Way

While this time of year can be hard, preparing for it ahead of time can help. Hopefully these tips to prevent a stressful holiday have helped some of you. Avoid setting up expectations – from yourself, but also with others. Focus on what you can control, and doing what you can to bring joy to yourself. But also give yourself permission to do what you need. Perhaps it is not going home to a stressful family situation, or treating yourself to what makes you happy – get your favorite coffee, run a hot bath and put on your favorite pajamas.

If you feel sad, acknowledge the feelings, as they are perfectly normal, don’t cause stress by thinking you have to always have a happy face on says Edmonton psychologist. Honour yourself this holiday season, and create the celebration that’s right for you this year.