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Stress: The Holiday Gift You Want to Return

4 Tips for Surviving Holiday Hassles

Stress: The Holiday Gift You Want To ReturnThe turkey is gone, your favorite coffee shop is serving peppermint and gingerbread drinks, and Christmas music is taking over the radio. You know what that means – it’s officially the holiday season. Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanza, New Years – whatever you celebrate, the rush is on. To some, it’s exciting but to others, it means one thing – holiday stress.

As a parent of a Complex Learner, you already have a lot on your plate. Throw in the holidays and it’s easy to feel like you’ve officially reached overload. But this time of year doesn’t have to be panic, disappointment and full-on exhaustion. Here are a few tips to help you reduce some of that holiday stress:

Identify Your Holiday Stressors:
You can’t have a stress-free holiday season (or at least somewhat less stressful!) if you don’t know what it is that’s stressing you out. With so much going on, it can be hard to pinpoint your holiday stressors. But really think about the season and figure out what parts cause you the most stress. Be honest with yourself. Do you feel stretched thin with plans? Do you dread having to bake for your family, the neighbors, your co-workers? Is shopping and figuring out who to buy for and what to get them a nightmare? Are you worried about your child’s behavior at the big family gathering or the neighborhood potluck? Is your annual road trip to grandma’s often disastrous? Once you know what’s causing the stress, you can work proactively to address it.

Just Say No:
With so much going on, it’s inevitable to feel overwhelmed. So, take charge of the madness – what can you skip or change in order to make the holiday season more joyful for you and your family? Yes, it might be nice to send a handwritten note to that long list of New Year’s card recipients, but not if it means you won’t be able to join in the family sledding outing. Do you need to attend every holiday event you’re invited to or can you limit it to just a few special ones? Does it really matter if you can’t get your child to wear the itchy sweater Aunt Jane gave him last year or would you rather he be comfortable and happy at family dinner even if it means he wears his old sweatshirt? Pare down the activities and expectations to meet your family’s needs. Slowing down and realizing you don’t have to do what you’ve always done can help significantly ease some of the holiday stress.

Make A Plan:
Now that you have a better grasp on what it is that’s stressing you out and you know what really matters to you, make a plan that works for you. If the thought of cooking sends you into a tailspin, don’t try to be Martha Stewart. Opt for the store-bought pie or get friends together for a cookie exchange. When guests ask, what can I bring, tell them! Hate wrapping presents? Find a friend or pay your babysitter to do it! If you’re worried about your child’s reaction to a gift she doesn’t like, take some time to do a practice run of what to say and do. If you can’t handle the crowds and traffic that go along with holiday shopping, give online shopping a try this year. If your child struggles socially at holiday gatherings, give him (and yourself!) permission to take a break in a quiet room to recharge. And you don’t have to give presents to everyone. A simple card, a date for dinner together after the holiday rush, or a donation to someone’s favorite charity is just, if not more, appreciated.

Be Kind to Yourself:
It’s not easy to step back from the hustle and bustle of the holidays and actually try to enjoy yourself without feeling guilty. There’s so much to do and you want to do it all. But this year, give yourself the gift of kindness. Prepare for the possibility that everything won’t go exactly as planned, and breathe through it. Don’t feel bad for turning down that office party invitation so you can stay in with your family and watch Frosty the Snowman for the fifth time. Over-cooking the latkes or using a menorah your in-laws don’t like isn’t the worst thing. Appreciate the quiet moments spent with family and don’t try to be perfect. Instead, look for gratitude and joy in your holiday season. The rest will fall into place, even if it’s not exactly where you thought it would land!

What do you do to combat holiday stress? Share your tips in the comment section below.

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215 Ferris Avenue, East Providence, RI 02916 | 401-432-9940