“Help! The holidays make me stress out!”
Does the season of nonstop festivities make you feel frazzled? Our pros share ways to take the edge off and grow closer to loved ones!
Set the stage for calm
Do less to bond more Go ahead and ask for help this holiday: When others pitch in to prep, they feel more invested in the festivities and bond faster. “Just jot down simple tasks, such as setting the table or putting away guests’ coats, on slips of paper,” says psychologist Melanie Greenberg, PH.D. “Place them in a basket by the door, and as folks file in, they can grab a slip and start lending a hand!” Laugh Having too-high at past holiday “setbacks” expectations can trigger needless stress, cautions holistic health expert Alice Domar, PH.D. Your Rx: Find strength in past “failures.” Think of when something didn’t go as planned but worked out great. Maybe you dropped the pie on the counter but were able to turn it into parfaits— such unscripted moments make our holidays unique and remind us of our resilience. Channel your idol We all play a certain role at family gatherings, observes communication expert Daniel Shapiro, PH.D. “I often revert to the quiet teenage son,” he laughs. “If you find yourself typecast in a role you’d like to break out of, pick someone you admire to emulate. For example, you could channel Oprah by ‘interviewing’ loved ones about their lives. Acting as if you were someone else shifts you out of the part you normally play, boosting your confidence.”
Grow closer all season long
Short-circuit anxiety Stressed in the midst of all your to do’s? “Take a deep breath and ask yourself what you value most,” Shapiro urges. For example, if creativity is one of the things you hold dear, make that your focus and talk to loved ones about possibly exchanging homemade gifts—it’ll melt stress and boost your budget. Says Shapiro, “Homing in on the thing that gives you purpose streamlines to-do’s and creates meaningful memories.” Share this emotion “Appreciation is so powerful— yet so simple,” says Shapiro. In fact, the sentiment is proven to help mend rifts both large and small. “For example, if you tend to disagree with a loved one over the holidays, you could say something like, ‘I so appreciate our conversations because I learn a lot from them, and I just want you to know that if I disagree, it’s not because I don’t love you.’” Promises Shapiro, “It makes people just melt.” Say a “hands-on” grace Offering a prayer or sharing a few words of gratitude this Thanksgiving or Christmas prompts specialized brain cells called mirror neurons to cue feelings of empathy. And saying grace while holding hands enhances the benefit, says Greenberg. How so? Human touch is so soothing, it instantly calms the nervous system, unleashing waves of happy brain chemicals that bring you closer!