Family Gatherings and Holiday Emotions

Family Gatherings and Holiday Emotions

With the holiday season comes a broad array of emotions, expectations and high demands. Our culture portrays idealized images of what the holidays are supposed to bring. For some, if not most, the holidays do not match this ideal. However, when we set ourselves up for success, we can garner the magic that is intended for this time of year.

Follow Dr. Goldstein's 10 tips for a joyful, stress-free holiday season:

1: Develop realistic expectations. Enjoy each holiday for what it is, not what you think it should be based on fairytales and movies. If your brother and sister have never gotten along, don't expect them during a holiday celebration. If your children expect more than you can provide, teach them a lesson about the true meaning of the season. When you approach the holidays in a realistic fashion, you set the stage for enjoyment and success.

2: Learn to say “no”. Struggling with too many obligations can create resentment and hostility as you find yourself trying to juggle holiday planning and preparation. Make a priority list of people and tasks and stick to it. Express yourself honestly from the beginning.

3: Create a budget and stick to it! No matter how much your children tell you what they want, money does not buy love or happiness. Set a monetary limit and get creative!

4: Start a new routine. Children grow up and family members age. If the old family rituals aren't what they used to be, create new traditions!

5: It's never too late to start planning. Make a practical timeline of everything that needs to be accomplished and split the holiday tasks between family members.

6: Learn to give and you will also receive. Take the time to reflect on all that you have been given and provide that opportunity to others during the holiday season. Giving feels good in any context. Do something for someone or make contact with someone that you've been thinking about for a while.

7: Get started on your New Years' resolutions now. More pressure builds up when we wait until the first of the year to change your life. There is never a better time than now to modify your behaviors.

8: Lighten up and learn to laugh at your shortcomings. Laughter boosts the immune systems, releases endorphins, tones muscles and improves circulation. Fill up on this “primary food” during the holidays.

9: Learn to compromise and refrain from negativity. If you belong to a feuding family, think about how negative attitudes and expectations bring out the worst in people. Learning to compromise can be difficult but life is too short for unnecessary disappointment and stress. Tolerance is the best medicine when faced with the reality that you cannot change how a family member will think or behave.

10: A family is what you make of it! Count your friends into that equation. Surround yourself with people that you love and admire during the holiday season.

By Guest Blogger Dr. Lindsey Goldstein, Psy D (child and adolescent psychologist)

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