Three Keys for Keeping Holiday Stress at Bay

Three Keys for Keeping Holiday Stress at Bay December 8, 2022

Key #1: Touch base regularly with the important people in your life

The holiday rush makes us time-stressed people. There are so many urgent things demanding our time – school parties, retirement-community decorations, final exams, work reports, and the I-haven’t-gotten-to-that-yet travel planning. Oh, and don’t forget Christmas shopping! (With what spare time, again?)

The problem is that time stress can lead to disconnection from the crucial people in your life. You look up one day in mid-December and realize you haven’t talked to your spouse in, like, three days. So you feel a bit distant. No biggie, right? It’s just the season. But then something amps up the stress – your car gets stuck in the snow, or you learn you aren’t getting a Christmas bonus this year – and suddenly that well of grace you normally have for one another has drained away faster than your resolution to avoid sugar for the next few weeks. You start snapping at each other. Or getting exasperated. Or withdrawn. So much for that holiday warmth, kindness, and romance.

Make a point to touch base regularly with your key loved ones: your spouse, kids, or important others. This doesn’t have to mean adding one more big item to your to-do list. We found in the research for Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages, that one of the most crucial things you can do to create a happy marriage is to informally hang out. Having coffee together in the morning for a few minutes before you start your day can be just as impactful as a date night. And the same principle is just as important for parents and kids, or for any important relationship in your life. Carving out time for one another is crucial throughout the year, but is essential this time of year, when holiday stress abounds.

So, make it a point to text your adult kids with an update on your latest funny shopping incident and ask how their week is going. Ask your younger kids to show you their favorite holiday TikToks. Take a few minutes to hug your frazzled wife when you come in from shoveling snow, and ask how her day was. Snuggle up to your husband at night and find out whether he’s still worried about the company being acquired next year. Plan for an hour when you and your spouse will wrap most of your presents together in the same (closed-door) room, rather than dividing-and-conquering for efficiency.

It will be a lot easier to have grace with one another when you are close rather than disconnected.

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