I don’t know anyone who is not feeling greater stress during this time of year. Even terrific moments with people we love can cause stress. It’s even more stressful if we are acting out of obligation.
Whatever your circumstances, it’s likely there will be at least a few people who drive us up a wall and cause us enormous stress. Welcome to the holidays. Not to mention the numerous details depending on what and how you celebrate: buying gifts, decorating, baking, cooking, sending cards, and trying to be a loving person on top of all that.
I’m stressed just writing about it. Let’s just acknowledge it; holidays can be HARD! And they can be much harder if you turn against the one person who is your rock 90% of the time—your partner. Think right now what a good team you make during a crisis. Now ask yourself if you are pulling your hair out and fighting more than usual with your mate.
Try Reconnecting with Your Partner
During the rest of the year, you probably lean on your partner when you feel stressed, worried, or have a problem. But something happens during the holidays, and a lot of our good coping skills go right out the window. For example, I know mine did during Thanksgiving.family member. But instead of talking about it with my partner, I got mad at him and started a little fight. We went to bed sulking. The next morning, I said I was sorry and then asked if we could remind ourselves of something important.
“We are good together,” I said. “We can weather anything. We can’t let our families and the events pull us apart. We have to remain strong. Together we can get through this.”
He agreed and said he was sorry. The two of us not only sailed through the holiday, but I was able to see him in a new light and admire his strength.
When I watched him prepare our Thanksgiving meal, I imagined him like a duck on a pond—his feet moving as if he were swimming underwater—but his demeanor was cool and calm as ever. When I saw his stance, I felt his energy and knew all would be well. We leaned on each other. We remembered how good we are as a couple. Why not reconsider your mate? Reconnect and solidify your relationship.
Take Pride in What You Do Well
Another tip for surviving the holidays emotionally has to do with taking stock of yourself and what you do well. All of us do something well during this time of year. I thought of this when I was wrapping a few gifts. I do this way better than my partner, so I always get the job. In the past, I have looked at it as just that—a job—but this year, I took pride in turning out some pretty packages. I heard his “oohs” and “aahs” when I showed him.
I liked the feedback, but I felt a lot of pride before that. Find your pride in what you do well. Maybe you are a wonderful baker. Maybe you are the decorator, the cook, or the one who coordinates and drives. Maybe you have rearranged your home to make room for guests. You are doing something for others, and there are probably some tasks and chores that you do extremely well.
Find one or more. When you perform those tasks, take a moment to appreciate yourself. You are doing something well, and it is a contribution to everyone. You are part of something bigger than yourself. You are important. Take stock of it. You deserve it.
What Do You Appreciate During the Holidays?
And finally, one more idea to feel less stressed during the holidays. Try some appreciation. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t enjoy feeling appreciated. All of us crave to be valued by another. Words of appreciation express this value. It may seem small, but the impact can be huge.
In my practice as a couples counselor, one of the most common issues I deal with is people not knowing if they are valuable to their partner. Don’t let the people you care about wonder if you find them valuable. Let them know. There are so many opportunities, especially during this time of year. It’s a gift to others, and it may be one of the most important things you can give.
© Copyright 2011 by Linda Nusbaum, MA, MFT, therapist in Long Beach, California. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.