“During this time of year I hear more about stress related to holiday planning and family dynamics,” said Dr. James Bray, associate professor of family and community medicine at BCM. “For some, this is the first time they are meeting new family members or splitting time between two homes. It can be stressful but there are ways to get through and enjoy this time of year.”
- Keep it simple – If you are stressed about decorating or cooking a big meal take a moment to realize that spending time with your loved ones is the priority.
- Ask for help – Don’t take on the whole menu or cleaning the entire house from top to bottom. No one person can do everything on their own.
- Organize – Even after stepping back and focusing on what is important during the holidays, there is still more on the schedule than usual. Make a list to keep ideas in order and check off as each task is completed.
- Relax – Take time for yourself. Whether it is going for a run or walk, reading a book or just being alone for a few minutes, stepping away is a way to recharge and refocus.
- Limit alcohol consumption – Overindulgence during the holidays is nothing new, but when it involves alcohol a stressful situation can escalate quickly to an argument that could have been avoided.
- Have a backup plan – Airline delays or bad weather can throw off a schedule so prepare alternative activities to keep kids busy or plan for a backup meal if you can’t make it to your destination.
- Open communications – Don’t make assumptions about others. New members of blended families or new in-laws might not be aware of the special needs of others. If there is a food or pet allergy or other issues that can’t be overlooked, be open and tell others beforehand. This will keep surprises and stress to a minimum.
By having a good perspective, setting priorities and planning ahead, the holidays can be a time of good cheer, Bray said.