The holidays are promoted as a time for family and togetherness, but things are rarely as joyful as they look on TV. If your family gatherings are stressful, you are not alone. Although there isn’t hard data to fall back on, most experts agree that people experience a lot of stress over the holidays. A new recovery only adds to this complexity!
Let’s examine some of the reasons why you might be feeling stressed as the holidays approach and how you can manage your emotions.
Why Do People Stress About Their Families?
It’s helpful to understand why you are feeling stress toward a particular situation. If you know what’s bothering you, it’s easier to come up with solutions.
Issue: Having unrealistic expectations
Many families strive for perfection over the holidays. They want their homes to be clean, their children to be well-behaved and the food to turn out delicious. When reality doesn’t match these expectations, frustration sets in.
What to work on: Be practical about what you can handle
No one is perfect. Try not to set your expectations so high that you can’t meet them. Be honest with yourself and set boundaries that you are comfortable with. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for and accept help.
Issue: Family conflict
Every family has some type of conflict, and this tension can be worse over the holidays when everyone is together in a confined space. In some cases, there is more than conflict. Relationships may be strained, marriages may be ending in divorce and so on. This is hard on everyone.
What to work on: Focus on those who have stood by your recovery
No family is perfect. Examine the situation you are dealing with and how to best cope. Spend time with those who have supported your recovery and decline invitations to where you are not comfortable. Also, remember to be grateful that you have this holiday to celebrate.
Issue: Financial limitations
The holidays are an overwhelming time when it comes to money. Between holiday gifts, grab bags, traveling or hosting gatherings, extra money is going out of your account all month long.
What to work on: Your recovery is the greatest gift of all
Be honest about what you can afford. Create a budget and stick to it. It’s helpful to shop online because you can track your spending and avoid distractions from store displays. The best gifts, however, are those that money can’t buy.
As the holidays inch closer, the stress can build. Take things one day at a time, just as you have done all year. The fact that you are here means you have loved ones supporting your progress. These are the people to take comfort in during the holidays – we can be certain they are proud of you!