Family and Consumer Sciences Education: Surviving the Holidays

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   How do you feel during the holidays? Do you begin with holiday decorations before Thanksgiving? For some people the anticipation of the holidays makes them feel physically ill, their stomach churns, and their back and neck tighten. People who try to have the perfect holiday are more likely to feel stressed.

   Letting go of perfection and expectations are the two keys to relieving stress for the holidays. Everything about the holidays is not magical and like everything else in life will not be perfect. Expecting that everything will magically go smoothly during this time period is not a realistic expectation. Perfection and expectations for the holidays can be realistic by having a discussion with family members and your partner.

   Expectations. Communicating with your partner may help you to understand what your expectations are for the holidays. A lot of the things that people do during the holidays are things that society may expect of them and not necessarily what their partner expects. Talk to your partner. Discuss with them what they would like to happen during the holiday, what they are willing to do and help with and what can be let go.

Be sure to talk about finances. Do you need (not just want) lots of gifts or pricey gifts? What can you afford with your current budget? Knowing your spending limit and setting a budget is a good way to set clear expectations and reduce stress. Set clear and practical expectations that fit with your needs and budget.

   Perfection. The holidays will not make an imperfect relationship perfect. If you and your partner are having difficulties, they will not go away just because it is a holiday. Unpleasant memories from previous years will also resurface. What can you do? Tuning out all of the hype and discussing ideas with your partner will ease the stress level.

   People should not have to put their lives on pause or totally rearrange their schedules because of the holidays. Discuss time management ideas and scheduling with your partner.

   The key to reducing stress with your partner is being willing to listen to each other’s needs, open to comprise, and supportive of the decision you make together.