First of all, happy holidays! The season is here again and for some of us celebrations are already in full swing. As wonderful as this time of year is, there is of course, more than its fair share (so it seems) of stressors and chaos. It seems each holiday season brings new trials just as fast we learn how to cope with old ones. 2017 is no exception. We are still adjusting to a new president and the events surrounding him, which are recorded for us blow by blow in the media. Social advocacy for basic rights is front and center and understandably commands much needed attention. We hear about natural disasters as if they are happening in our own back yards and the numerous conflicts raging around the world. We are being barraged by reports of local attacks and a seeming increase in the violence of these incidents. Everyone is wary of the next such attack and with seeming increases (at least reported) in teen suicides, depression, and the phenomenon of cyber bullying. And we still must get the holiday shopping done. What a downer right? How can we stay sane for ourselves and for our children? How can we have a peaceful holiday season like the holiday greetings wish us?
December's post is here to hopefully demonstrate by example three quick ways you can help yourself avoid burnout this holiday season. Flexibility, adaptibility, and self-forgiveness. I will use myself as an example. In addition to having to deal with living in the world we live in and manage my practice, maintain my resource website, and engage in speaking events, I have a new addition to my family, which requires a HUGE deal of attention. Infant care takes a huge toll of time and energy; quite simply I do not have the time to devote to generating a lengthy post on managing holiday stress or even to address my own holiday stress! And, that's OK! Yet I put myself under great pressure to create a useful and informative post each month so I often get bound by inflexibility around the idea that I MUST do so. It really weighs heavy, especially juggling all the stressors of the world I cannot shut out.
I have to exercise self-forgiveness by acknowledging that my situation may not permit me to create the post I want by contributing some revolutionary suggestions to the many already out there. I have to take my situation and look at what I can actually accomplish, allow myself to experience the feelings around not being able to do what I want to. Doing so really helps clear the mental paralysis of getting "stuck" on what is not working, allowing me to shift to exploring flexibility and adaptability. I first need to adapt to the changes in my situation and realize that with time being the biggest constraint, I have to work within the limits of less time. I can then choose to take what I have analyzed in my situation and make another plan i.e. be flexible to work with what I can work with and within the limits of my situation. By organizing, prioritizing, and making a plan I can get past the "too much to do and not enough time" paralysis. Doing so not only gives me a solution to my original problem, but allows me to feel a sense of self-accomplishment, which is really the biggest score of all. I bet you can do the same and even better than I do!
So what does that all mean? Well, I am changing my planned post to be one that provides links to resources that do focus on how to avoid holiday burnout. It's one way I can limit the stressor of work on my other main stressors of raising an newborn and getting ready for the holidays. I have tried to include a number of different resources to reflect different stressors during the holidays. Let's take a look.
What causes holiday stress?
Great overview with suggestions!
More causes for holiday stress
This has more of a scientific approach, yet is interesting for those wanting to learn more about the impact of biological and environmental stressors during the holidays.
The Mayo Clinic's tips for managing holiday stress
This resource is a nice, quick read and makes good sense. It sends a nice message about making a plan to deal with the holidays by preparing ahead of time.
25 ways to beat holiday stress
Simple, effective, and provided by real people, these suggestions are readily useable. They also send a wonderful message about self-forgiveness and that it's ok to be human!
The Money Crashers guide to managing holiday stress
Our pocketbooks certainly feel the stress this time of year so this resource focuses on one of the most unpleasant stressors in an easy-to-read way.
Travel during the holidays
For parents with kids needing to travel during the holidays. Good luck!
Next to finances, I cannot think of many other stressors as tough as out of control child behavior! A good read with good suggestions in a common-sense frame of mind.
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network's resources for managing holiday stress in children
Children do not need to have experienced trauma to have stress during the holidays. Some might say the holiday season generates its own traumas. This is a great resource for trauma focused holiday stress management.
Holiday stress in step-families and families with divorced parents
A nice guide for parents in these situations to help their children cope with the emotional aspects the holidays bring about this time of year.
Coping with in-law visits
Another easy read and has a number of very good points.
Family impacts on stress during the holidays
Offered by popular science, this article is a little on the long side but interesting
Tips for couples spending their first holidays together
Lots of helpful ideas and suggestions that do not apply just to first year couples
What if your partner or parent is traveling during the holidays?
Nice, quick read for when work gets in the way of the holidays and how to cope.
Holiday stress management for individuals with autism
Helpful and to the point. provides a number of nice suggestions
Ideas for reducing stress around the holidays in children with autism
Creative and fun ideas. Well worth a look!
Friendship Circles guide to holiday stress management for families with adult children and non-adult children with disabilities
Friendly and straightforward commonsense suggestions.
I sincerely hope that you find something here that you can use to ease the stress of the holidays, even if only a little. Remember any reduction in stress at this time of year is good; the holidays do not need to be a dreaded time of year. Go on and enjoy them and take care!