Tips to have an elf-ing good holiday this year

 In RT Blog

By: April Horency

Life changes. One would think that we wouldn’t expect our holidays to always look the same. Yet so often we try to cling to the way things have always been. 

Last year the pandemic forced most of us to break outside of our traditions. And we got through it. And in some ways, the expectations took away many of the stressors we usually face: scheduling travel, hosting dinner with family members who argue politics, perfectly re-creating the recipes our grandmother cooked year-after-year. Now the holiday season is here again and we’re faced with the same question: How do I get through this when everything is so different?

Setting boundaries

If meeting with family for annual holiday dinners weighs on your shoulders, your mind, your heart, you are not alone. The Huffington Post referenced a 2018 survey conducted by VitalSmarts reported that 33% of participants felt that family is a major holiday stressor. Setting boundaries is important, even though it may be difficult. Remember that you are never obligated to visit anyone if it threatens your mental health, not even during the holidays. Or, consider sending some “ground rules” so everyone can agree beforehand to keep some topics off the table (pun intended). 

Making new traditions

Traditions are a big part of the holidays, but when you have to make new ones it can be a bit scary. And if you decide to include your extended family in new traditions, introducing the tradition to your family is a process. Since you created the tradition, remember that you control it. The process of creating a new tradition could look something like this:

  • Think about what activities you already do as a family
  • Listen to every family member’s idea and discuss each one
  • Discuss who will be involved
  • Decide as a family what traditions you’d like to begin
  • Make sure the traditions suit your family
  • Whatever you decide, be flexible 

Managing holiday stress

Stress can come from a variety of sources, but you have control over how to deal with it. And, alongside the normal holiday comes a new kind of stress this year: the Covid-19 kind of stress. The pandemic hasn’t gone away, but now we have even more new advisories for how to gather safely that families must navigate during the holidays. 

A first step to managing holiday stress is being intentional in choosing how you want to spend your holiday. You can decide how flexible this holiday is, and make some decisions early so you can lean on them later. Some tips include: 

  • Acknowledging your feelings
  • Be realistic about holiday plans
  • Set an agreed upon budget for gifts
  • Use technology to your advantage
  • Avoid discussion of grievances and differences
  • Set aside time for yourself

Member suggestions

We asked our Rowan Tree members what their holiday plans are to share ideas and tips on how to deal with holiday stress this year. The answers ranged anywhere from going on a trip to Disneyland to staying at home and ordering dinner. Alternatively, one member even said that her family just honors everyone’s various coping mechanisms used to deal with the stress. 

Whatever your particular holiday worries are, create a holiday that works for you. Whether that is finally getting the whole family back together or creating a completely new holiday tradition, be intentional in your decision-making progress. If you need more advice, visit Rowan Tree…your fellow members will be here for you.

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