Enjoy “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”

Managing stress during the Holidays


By Maria Alejandra Pulgar

Para leer en Español

The arrival of the holiday season can be either cheerful or dreadful depending on how much stress we allow to associate with the activities we participate in during these last weeks of the year. Trying to squeeze in countless holiday-related events every day, ends up souring up the time that is supposed to be devoted to joy, excitement, and celebration, leaving us anxious and tired instead of happy.

“The most wonderful time of the year” is full of changes in the organized routine we have been working on all year long, which gives us structure, and control, and helps us manage expectations; we would blow it out in a month if we do not get conscious of what is important for us, and where we want to devote our time during the holidays.

A time supposed to be uplifting and happy ends up full of moments and encounters, expenses, or indulgences, which can bring challenges, stress, anxiety, and overwhelming, no matter how much we plan them. The only thing we can control is ourselves and our reactions; trying to be prepared for what we can manage and setting healthy limits can help us enjoy the season and not end up emotionally and physically burned by January.

Do I really need all the “hosting, roasting, and caroling”?

Holiday celebrations and family get-togethers go hand in hand. However, connecting with our loved ones and having fun can be exhausting if we take charge of all the parties, trying to become the greatest host or the perfect guest.

Keep in mind that pleasing everyone is impossible. As a host, procrastination is your worst enemy.  Planning all activities ahead of time, delegating responsibilities, and prioritizing tasks can help you avoid burnout and enjoy your parties. The idea is sharing time with your family and friends, not being overwhelmed while everybody else has a great time. You do not need to “roast the turkey, toast marshmallows or sing carols”; do not feel obligated to follow traditions or incorporate activities in your events if you do not have time for it or they do not feel right for you or your family.

As a guest, feel free to say no to some invitations. You do not need to make up excuses, just say no and stand your ground if you are too tired or sad to attend, or have colliding events.  If people have a true appreciation for you, they will understand and not push you when they know you need to take time for yourself to relax and recharge. 

Acknowledge your nostalgia

The holidays can bring up a lot of memories and emotions, especially if you have lost someone or experienced a change in your life. It is normal to feel nostalgic, sad, or lonely; but do not let those feelings overshadow your present happiness or wellbeing. Acknowledging those feelings and sharing them with someone you trust can help overcome them, giving you a new perspective to enjoy your present moment.

The holidays for immigrants are particularly nostalgic; finding ways to stay busy during those days, staying in contact with the family abroad, connecting with friends, and focusing on the opportunities that have opened up with the decision to move to another city or country are the best ways to cope with the feelings of loneliness this season.  

Gratitude is an attitude that helps conquer sadness. Shifting the focus to appreciate the good things you have in your life, like your achievements, the people around you, your health, or your work, can make you feel better and enjoy the present moment. You can put your time and talents to use by getting involved with causes close to your heart and honor your past by creating new traditions that will increase your sense of belonging, turning nostalgia into gratitude and joy.

“I don’t want a lot for Christmas, there is just one thing I need”

Another source of stress during the holidays is the idea that you need to break the bank to show your appreciation to your family and friends. We all would love to buy expensive gifts for everyone on our lists, but setting a budget for presents and sticking to it is the best approach for enjoying a financially healthy holiday season.

First of all, do like Santa: check your list twice before going on a shopping spree of little trinkets for everyone. Prioritize the recipients and follow your budget. Not everyone you saw this year expects a gift from you. Those who truly love you will understand if you do not give a gift this year because you cannot afford to do it. The best gift always comes from your love, time, and presence, not the size or price of the present. Even children understand that.

Thoughtful gifts, like a handwritten card or something personal or homemade, are unforgettable. Sometimes even a word of appreciation goes a long way and is the best gift for a person who has been helpful to you. Make a point to spend quality time with your loved ones, cherish your relationships; practice forgiveness, respect, and gratitude. To avoid arguments and resentment, try to be respectful, flexible, and realistic. Focusing on the positive aspects of your family and friends helps you appreciate them for who they are and enjoy the time you spend together.

The holidays can truly be the most wonderful time of the year when we understand that the most important part of it is all the love, joy, and peace that we share. By managing your stress, focusing on the important things in life, practicing self-care, and being present you will be able to enjoy this special season. There is nothing else your loved ones need; all they want for the holidays is you.

From our Doral Family Journal Family to yours, Merry Christmas,

Happy Holidays,

and our wishes for a Blessed New Year 2024


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