Ahhh, the holiday season, it’s here and we are completely in it. This is time for families to celebrate and spend time together, which sounds wonderful, right? Of course it does, but families often have to be mindful that time spent together can also lead to various forms of stress and perhaps a little chaos.
As a multigenerational family, we try to keep things low-key, fun and relaxing in order to actually enjoy this festive season. Sometimes we are successful and other times we fall short. In order for us to do well in having a stress free holiday gathering, we all have to remember why we are doing what we are doing.
Are our activities and actions for show or are we really trying to reconnect with each other? Does one person (or a select few) have to be in charge of the cooking and cleaning, or can we all pitch in? Do our holiday plans allow us to create fun and sustainable traditions or are we creating traditions that do not honor who we are as a family?
These are the types of questions that guide my multigenerational family’s thinking as we enter the holiday season. Stress is not fun and is often avoidable. We work hard to keep stress at bay, especially as we reflect on all the things that make us feel thankful and grateful.
This year, for Thanksgiving, my mother-in-law is traveling out of state to visit her other children, grandchildren and siblings. (She just sent me a text that read: “No body scan. No pat down. Same old stuff. Quiet. No lines.”)
So the four of us (me, hubby and our two kiddos) will have a quiet and low-key Thanksgiving. We went to the library and checked-out some cookbooks. Since we are on vacation and just hanging out, we plan to do some fun cooking and try out some new recipes. For us, that will be fun and we will be able to spend time doing an activity that we all enjoy.
For our actually Thanksgiving meal, we made reservations and will be dining at a local restaurant and letting them take care of all the planning, table setting, cooking and cleaning. How’s that for a low stress Thanksgiving?
As you enter this holiday season, stay mindful of the people you love. That thought process should keep you in a comfortable and low-stress state of being.
If, by chance, you find yourself moving into the stress zone, think about these tips offered by Dan Fox, MA, LPC:
- It may be vacation time, but there are still plans to be made and work to be done, so it pays to talk about the time together in advance.
- Try having a family meeting to brainstorm how to get through these challenges and to envision the exciting part of the days ahead.
- Take good care of yourself.
- Keep aiming for “comfort and joy,” but remember it’s natural to feel some stress and frustration.
- Your family needs you well rested and functional more than they need you to have arranged every detail to perfection.
- You can also take good care of your family by maintaining some positive routines.
- If you find the chaos of the season has infiltrated your family, take a breath or a break and think about the big picture.
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