At this time of year, everyone is supposed to be joyful. Yet, holiday stress can override your authentic experience of love and joy. So this episode of The Glen Alex Show is on managing holiday stress!
As a clinical Social Worker I work with adults who experience anxiety & depression in multiple areas of their lives–home, relationships, work, school, etc. Much of the stress and pressure and disappointment that cause discontent is due to poor boundaries. The unwillingness to say “no” when appropriate, overcommitting, unspoken or unrealistic expectations, telling all about self or someone else create enough difficulty normally.
Much of the stress and pressure and disappointment that cause discontent is due to poor boundaries.
And those boundary issues get amplified during this time, during the holidays because there is a lot of external pressure to live and be and do and spend a certain way in order to measure up some false sense of happiness.
Have you ever had high hopes for the holidays and found yourself seriously disappointed, in over your head financially, or emotionally drained afterward? Me too! It’s far too common for holiday stress to overwhelm and ruin the experience of spending time with loved ones, throwing you out of balance.
Because I want you to be joyful, connected, confident, and complete, I have 5 tips for you to live in balance during the holidays. If you want more information about interpersonal boundaries specifically, then check out the Nov 3rd episode of The Glen Alex Show on glenalex.com.
TIP #1: CLARITY
During work on boundaries with a client, she asked me, “How do I communicate my boundaries?” Because boundaries are flexible and contextual, not the walls as so many think, to answer her question I needed to know, “What do you want to communicate?”
A puzzled look crossed her face as she considered what her boundaries are. You see, the ‘what’ comes before the ‘how’. Not vice versa. My client needed clarity. You need to be clear about your boundaries before you can communicate them. Otherwise, you communicate uncertainty, opening the door to someone else’s interpretation of your needs.
As a reminder…boundaries are your line in the sand, the line where what you will and will not tolerate meet. So clarifying your boundaries that are specific to the holidays involves asking yourself:
What’s my budget? Who will I buy for? Will I host? How many guests? Who are the guests?
Keep in mind that your holiday boundaries can be ranges. For example, you may set your budget at $1000-1200 or 15-20 guests. You don’t have to be exact and can allow for some flexibility. Yet, the more clear you are about your boundaries, what you will and will not tolerate, and incorporate that into your planning then the smoother things will flow for you and your loved ones.
And the more clarity you have about your line in the sand, then you minimize overcommitting, unspoken and unrealistic expectations that can lead to feelings of guilt, failure, self-loathing, depression, anxiety.
SO BE CLEAR.
TIP #2: COMMUNICATION
Once clear about your boundaries, then you can communicate them to your loved ones.
“We’re on a tight budget this year, so you may not get a gift.”
“Our home is small so we’re limiting guests to 20.”
Not speaking up negatively impacts relationships. Unspoken and unrealistic expectations can lead to disappointment, anger, and self-pity–wondering why no one cares what you want.
Unspoken and unrealistic expectations are setups for failure. If you secretly wish or hope for others to read your mind and to automatically provide what you want, then they will likely fail. This speaks to the mental boundary, which is about agreements and expectations. If you don’t have an actual agreement, yes let’s cap spending at $2000 (for example), then everything else is an unspoken or unrealistic expectation.
So speak your truth and give others the realistic opportunity to assist in your health and happiness. You won’t always get your way even when you speak up, yet opening the lines of communication is usually beneficial for relationships.
TIP #3: SELF-CARE
Taking care of yourself is required for living in balance during regular times. Self-care is so much more needed when there’s an extra demand and extra stress like during the holidays. While it’s easy to sacrifice and put your needs aside at this time, doing so can have negative consequences that last beyond the holidays. Here are 4 simple ways to elevate your self-care:
Although you may stay up later cooking, shopping or socializing, sleep and rest lay the foundation for balance. Sleep deprivation diminishes focus, memory, digestion, emotional stability, and more. So consider taking power naps to refresh.
Fuel and nourish your body with proper nutrients. Counter the excess consumption of pastries, candy, alcoholic and sugary drinks with good nutrients. Some even suggest taking extra vitamins during stressful times. And you already know which foods energize and nourish you.
Make time for a therapeutic massage! There are so many studies showing that massage benefits every area of health–physical tension, enhanced relaxation, improved sleep/rest, digestion, blood pressure, and so many more benefit. Massage doesn’t take a lot of time; you can book a 30 minute table or chair massage to reap the benefits.
Healthy and loving connections are very important in well-being. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or just need to vent, then reach out to that one person who supports what’s best for you, the person who really listens to you and who gives you honest feedback.
Self-care will definitely help you live in balance during this season.
TIP #4: GRATITUDE
Gratitude enhances health. Period. Gratitude deepens your connection to life and aligns you with your wholeness. Take a moment during the holidays to recognize, acknowledge, and be thankful for all the goodness and blessings in your life. You see, it’s really difficult if not impossible to be in a state of gratitude and be stressed or anxious or depressed.
TIP #5: GIVE
Helping those less fortunate than you is a great way to regain perspective. Because even though things don’t always go your way, giving to others is connective. And healthy connection to others is healing and nurturing. You can donate money, time, goods, or resources to a charity or someone that resonates with you.
Giving to others taps into human connectedness and restores balance.
Living in balance during the holidays is possible. All that is required is for you to be clear about your boundaries, communicate your boundaries, elevate your self-care, be in gratitude, and give to others.
Follow these tips and you set yourself up to have the most joyful and loving holiday season ever.