Normally I am the most positive person and expect the very best. However, the sign on my desk, "Lower Your Expectations" reminds me that people, especially my family members, aren't perfect and neither am I. Now that I am past 70 I've been through quite a few holiday seasons. I haven't seen perfection yet and don't expect to.
Holidays are a time for family gatherings, a time to celebrate with friends and a time for spiritual traditions. Holidays are a time to be open and grow, to accept new family members as the family grows and changes. As families grow and change traditions and rituals often change as well. Choose those you wish to hold on to and be open to creating new ones. For example if your adult children can't come to your house this year share pictures, emails and video.
2. Put your differences aside for holiday tranquility
Keep it civil and simple. Holiday dinner is probably not the time to bring up old disagreements with a long-lost uncle. Try to be respectful of others' boundaries and if you find yourself ready to get into a fight, it's time to say goodnight.
3. Drink responsibly
Some people feel nervous in social situations, but drinking too much can lead to very negative consequences both professionally and personally. Drink like a diplomat. Have one drink and take hours to finish it. Have a second drink and never finish it.
4. Give yourself plenty of time when traveling
Travel in general has become more stressful. Holiday travel always seems to increase stress. As a seasoned traveler my advice is to give yourself lots of time. Pack light. Plan plenty of time to get where you need to go and bring activities for the little ones. Pacing the activities by the hour often helps pass the time. Allow yourself some quiet time by listening to music or hypnosisprograms to help recharge your batteries during the trip. Accept what happens and make it into an adventure.
5. Learn to say no.
Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and colleagues will understand if you can't participate in every activity. It's OK to say NO.
6. Don't do the same old thing
If the usual family gathering is causing holiday stress, try something else. If you're too overwhelmed to host, discuss other possibilities with family members. Maybe a sibling could have the dinner this time.
7. Reach out.
If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out community, religious or other social events. They can offer support and companionship. Volunteering your time at a food bank to help others also is a good way to lift your spirits and broaden your friendships.
8. Seek professional help if you need it.
Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling sad or anxious, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless. Hypnosis can help reduce stress, give you more energy and help you sleep. Listen to a hypnosis program one or two times a day before things get out of hand. Each time you listen you'll go into a profound state of relaxation and feel so much more relaxed at the end of the program.
Check our our website for a variety of programs that can help you relax, sleep better and not stress about the holidays.
Kenneth Grossman, PhD
Specializing in Clinical Hypnotherapy