How to Survive the Holidays Without Unnecessary Stress or Expense

Maybe the reality of celebrating the season isn't quite as perfect as we plan.

It could be that we just need to change our plan. As it turns out, a lot of learning how to survive the holidays involves shifting our outlook. And plenty of experts have weighed in on the healthiest ways to do exactly that. We've taken a look at some of the time honored tricks that have helped countless others. So no matter what you're dreading about the holidays, we're confident the following tips can offer some assistance.
how to survive the holidays, survive the holidays

A Bit About Surviving the Holidays

Whether you've got a peaceful family or you look forward to dysfunction each year, the season can be stressful. Just coordinating gatherings and buying presents for everyone is a lot to do. Then it can all be over so quickly. So how do you keep the right perspective and learn how to survive the holidays? We've got some great tips and tricks that will help you keep your cool even when things get heated.
how to survive the holidays, survive the holidays

Why Are the Holidays Difficult for Some People?

Each of us has our own traditions, customs and reasons for celebrating the holidays. And for many of us, it isn't always easy. Maybe you've lost some loved ones or have moved away from your closest friends. Perhaps it's just overwhelming to be around so many relatives you realize each year you barely know. Maybe it's the stress of shopping for so many people on your list. Whatever it is that brings you down this time of year, there's probably a tip to address it. Keep reading for a few time tested holiday stress relievers. 

Why Is It Important to Know How to Handle the Stress?

As with any potentially stressful event, we can prepare ourselves ahead of time. And if you've made it through tense holidays in the past, you might know roughly what to expect. But even if this will be a uniquely stressful time of year, you can mitigate the impact. The calmer you're able to remain, the easier it will be to roll with the punches. And whether you can script it already or you don't know what to expect, being flexible is a vital key.

How to Survive the Holidays

Maybe it sounds like a cliche, but you really have the power to define your own experience. Sure, there will be others who might seem determined to throw you off track. But following the steps listed below will give you the ability to disregard stress and focus on what really matters.

1. Maintain the Spirit of Giving

how to survive the holidays, survive the holidays

Have you heard the adage that it's better to give than to receive? Well, that really only works out when we align ourselves with the spirit of giving. And that means meeting people where they are and meeting their needs in any way we can. Plus, we must do it without any thought about how we'll be repaid. Giving for the mere sake of helping others is a reward in itself.

And that doesn't just apply to giving to charities or helping out a panhandler you see on the way to work. In fact, it can be just as beneficial when geared toward those closest to us. You don't have to approve of the choices your loved ones have made. But you can make your own choice to accept them for who they are. And part of that means recognizing where they might need some help.

Whether it's an investment of time, money or just a statement of support, it goes a long way. So put your personal prejudices and complaints aside for the sake of others. Put those around you first and don't make yourself the primary focus. 

2. Keep Expectations Realistic

how to survive the holidays, survive the holidays

Hopefully you have some idea of what you're getting into. Knowing ahead of time that there will be people you don't necessarily want to see will help avoid stress. And recognizing the best ways to deal with them will make those interactions less awkward. And most importantly, don't expect everything to work out without a hitch.

When you go into a haunted house, you're prepared for some frights. And when they come, you're more prepared to handle them and recognize them for what they are. You can use the same foresight to address how to survive the holidays. Don't assume others have grown or matured in the ways you think they should.

If some of these folks have turned things around, by all means celebrate along with them. But if not, resist the urge to push them in what you think is the right direction. You can show love, compassion and grace instead. Not only is that message almost always received better, it can also improve your mood. In the end, the only person's attitude you can really control is your own.

3. Treat It Like a Chore

how to survive the holidays, survive the holidays

This step dovetails nicely with the previous one. One mistake a lot of people make is hoping that the entire holiday will be a big celebration. But if you've been an adult for any time at all, you probably know there are some frustrating responsibilities. Maybe you won't want to look at your seasonal gatherings that way, but it could help.

Realize that there are some things you just have to do. Put on the happy face and trudge through until it's over. Without the false promise of fun, you won't be disappointed. And you might just find a few things to enjoy while you're at it. Or maybe your chores are more literal. Whether you have a long trip ahead of you or a huge meal to prepare, suck it up and get it done.

Plus, just like when you finish any other chores, you know the relief you feel when they're over. At that point, you're left with enjoying the high points of the season. Learning how to survive the holidays will leave you with a healthy new perspective on things.

4. Go the Extra Mile

how to survive the holidays, survive the holidays

Here's where it can all come together -- or fall apart. Because it might just require an uncomfortable level of flexibility. If you're accustomed to wearing your feelings on your sleeve, try to address that instinct. Give everyone around you the benefit of the doubt, even if you don't think they deserve it.

Embrace the golden rule and treat others the way you wish they'd treat you. Whether they follow suit or not is really not the point. You're trying to figure out how to survive the holidays. And most of it will stem from the way you approach everything. No one is stopping you from showing others how you think they should be acting. But do in from a place of acceptance and holiday cheer.

Best case scenario is that your positive attitude will rub off on those who need it most. And at the very least, you'll be giving them an example of what the season truly should represent. 

5. Don't Be Afraid to Take a Break

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Maybe you feel that being in the center of everything is how to survive the holidays. But it might be just as important to take intentional breaks from the festivities. Get away to be by yourself, your spouse or someone else who can help you recharge. Just like the electronic devices you probably brought along with you, it's important to power down.

And if you try to keep going through everything throughout the holidays, you might run out of juice. That will make you more prone to crankiness, irritability and an inability to follow the other tips. So grab a coffee, head to a quiet spot with a good book, and don't feel the need to apologize. As long as you're there when it matters most, you've got to remember that it's your celebration, too.

6. Be Nice to Yourself

how to survive the holidays, survive the holidays

Just because you've got the spirit of giving doesn't mean you have to ignore your own needs. Recognize what you truly need to make it through the season. And don't hesitate to provide it to yourself. Because chances are, no one else will. Try to always put others first, but you shouldn't be written out of the equation as a result. 

Remember that a lot of the stress of the holidays is self imposed. So that means you can also lighten the load. Realize that this time of year can be tricky for everybody. And even those who might appear to have it all together are learning how to survive the holidays too. Each year is different and every family unique. But each one of us has something in common: we're all figuring it out as we go along. So cut yourself some slack, do what makes you happiest in the circumstances, and drop the guilt. It'll only make you much easier to get along with, and maybe spread the cheer a bit further.

Learning how to survive the holidays might take some trial and error.

And it's going to look different to each person in their own unique situations. But a few universal tips and tricks can help you get a handle on the hassle.

We hope our guide has helped you keep more of the magic and lose some of the stress. If so, share this article with your loved ones this holiday. And leave us a comment below if you have any final thoughts or questions.

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