Six Tips for Holiday Survival During Family Upheaval
The holiday season brings joy, wonder and the warmth of family and friends. For some, however, it also stirs painful memories and feelings of loss. Other people stress about finances, family discord and spiritual uncertainty.
If you’re going through a divorce, parenting dispute or other family turmoil, adding holiday stress into the mix can make life overwhelming. Your bank account might be strained; you may be in a new home; you might not even know where you’ll be spending the holidays, or with whom.
More than one-third of people surveyed by the American Psychological Association said their stress level increases during the holiday season.
Whether your goal is to get the most out of this holiday season or just get through this holiday season, consider these six tips your gifts to a better December.
Let there be peace
Whatever is going on in your life, whoever you’re fighting with, whatever decisions are left to be made, allow this to be a season of peace for yourself and your family. Do the best you can to set aside differences and find ways to be kind and giving.
If you can’t do it, if you really cannot act politely and kindly, consider removing yourself from holiday situations. Spend the holidays with friends or take a short vacation. Sometimes the best option is to disconnect, reset and return after things have calmed down.
Carve out time for yourself
Amid the busy season, you’ll also be weighed down by tasks and emotions related to your life change. Plan for time, even just an hour per week, when you can step away from the hustle and bustle to focus on your own physical and mental well-being.
No, shopping doesn’t count as quality personal time and neither does cooking, wrapping presents or doing anything for anyone else. Write in a journal, practice meditation, focus on prayer or even make weekly appointments with your therapist. What a great gift to give yourself.
Limit your holiday ‘cheer’
With parties, late nights and cold weather, the holiday season can encourage you to enjoy alcohol a bit more than usual. Remember that you are experiencing a huge range of emotions and having too many drinks could increase feelings of sadness, anger and hopelessness.
Plan to stay sober at parties where you’ll encounter ex-spouses or other family members with whom relationships are difficult. Limit alcohol consumption to a few drinks, always remember to eat something, and never drive while intoxicated.
Don’t give until it hurts
Generous souls and shopaholics alike sometimes struggle to limit their holiday spending. When experiencing emotional turmoil, you might turn to spending as a distraction or coping mechanism. This is not a time to be straining your finances by spending outside of your means.
Keep your gifts simple, manageable and affordable. Not only will this take off some of the onus of gift-giving, you may rediscover simple, non-material joys. Your family and friends would rather see you calm and happy than receive the “perfect” present.
Hang up your old expectations
It’s like getting a lump of coal in your stocking, but you really must accept that your holiday experience is now different. You might spend more time alone or find yourself going to new parties with unfamiliar people. Children might have to split their time or might not be around at all.
Be practical with what you hope your holiday will hold, and don’t foist unrealistic expectations upon others. Allow children the freedom and joy to spend time with all their loved ones. Understand if friends have to eliminate you from a party invite list in order to keep the peace. Allow yourself to mourn these changes, but don’t let them ruin your whole holiday.
Tie a bow on new traditions
Your life is different now, but it’s not over. Use the holidays as a stepping stone toward building a new life for yourself and the people you love. Create new traditions that focus on gratitude and a spirit of giving and rebirth. Look to the Christmas story itself to understand the real reason for the season.
You can even adapt elements of older traditions, updating them for your present situation. If a favorite set of ornaments won’t fit on your downsized Christmas tree, string them over a doorway so you can still enjoy them. If Christmas morning will feel lonely, volunteer for a few hours. Helping other people is a surefire way to break out of a holiday funk.
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This article does not constitute individual legal advice and is to not to be construed as such. This article contains general information and constitutes legal advertising.