Tips for Holiday Wellness
Understanding and Managing Holiday Stress…
Getting set for the holidays involves more than dressing the dinner table. For some, it is one of the most difficult times of the year.
People far from their homeland or family must overcome feeling down or lonely in addition to other stressors, such as difficult family relationships and unfulfilled expectations.
We wrote this article to share why people sometimes feel down or lonely and what you can do to overcome these feelings. Taking stock of your stressors is the first step to coping with them, and we hope this article will help.
COPING WITH HOLIDAY STRESSORS
Utilizing healthy thoughts and behaviors to cope with stressors is sage advice at any time of the year, and especially so during the holidays, when many people find themselves alone, recall lost or past relationships, and feel the pressure to gift give and people please, in general, in order to have the “perfect” holiday season.
Coping with stress by using unhealthy thought or behavior patterns may cause a vicious cycle to emerge that may threaten to dampen more than your holiday spirit. Your physical and mental well being also are affected, as using unhealthy coping patterns may cause more stress. Follow the tips on further down the page to reduce your holiday stress.
SHARING THE HOLIDAYS WITH OTHERS
Whether you are single or are just far from your loved ones during the holidays, you can reach out and meet people! Staying cooped up in your apartment and drooling on your couch will not help you to connect with others who are in a similar situation.
Feeling a sense of belonging is important, and especially so when you are far from home. When we do not feel connected to others or to a group, we tend to sink into a deep rut and, after some time of feeling this way, even into depression.
Getting People Together
It takes some courage to put yourself out there and talk to others, especially if you’re not accustomed to this, but no one will come knocking at your door… until you invite them to do so!
Reach out by inviting others to your place for an apéro or out to a favorite café for coffee.
Organize an outing, such as a hike, a day of skiing, or a movie.
Be creative and allow others the opportunity to share their traditions with you by hosting a “white elephant” party. Each person brings a small, wrapped gift to “exchange.” Draw numbers to decide who goes first: the higher the number, the better! The second person to unwrap a gift can choose to keep it OR to exchange it with the first person.
The last person to choose gets the pick of the lot! Add some snacks and stories about your favorite holiday traditions and make some good connections!
Making Good Connections
Give good eye contact: Let people know you see them. Listen first, talk next: Sounds simple, but if you stay in your head thinking about what you’re going to say next, you’ll miss out on what’s happening in front of you. Breathe and pause a few seconds before speaking: This keeps your conversation comfortably paced and gives you time to think about how to respond, since you listened first. Ask people about themselves: It shows your interest and takes the pressure off of you to talk!
HOLIDAY TRADITIONS FOR THOSE FAR FROM “HOME”
People who have relocated to Switzerland and are far from their mother soil may not find the same holiday foods or other markers here that help them to feel their own sense of holiday spirit. For newly formed couples, blended families, or a group of friends spending time together at the holidays, it may be challenging to find a middle ground between sets of traditions, but it may also provide unique opportunities to form or strengthen your bonds.
In these situations, people may feel sadness over not being able to celebrate in their usual ways. This may stem from thinking that change is bad or that something is not as good as what you’re accustomed to. Change can certainly be uncomfortable because you are unfamiliar with others’ traditions or their ways of doing things. By telling yourself, “It may be different than what I’ve ever experienced, but that doesn’t make it bad,” you will be able to take the judgment out of it and consider it in a different way than you might have before.
Although adapting to change takes time, and it’s not easy, couples, families, and friends who discuss and negotiate how to celebrate their holidays will feel a sense of contribution to making the holidays the best they can be. It may also help to think of this year’s celebration as just that: something done this year that can be renegotiated in future years and not set in stone forever.
It may be a time, too, to look at what Switzerland has to offer at this time of year and start some new traditions, like snow sports (skiing or sledding) and eating other types of foods and holiday treats (like magenbrot or biberli).
Toast these new traditions together!
À votre santé!
COPING WITH STRESSORS
Trying to do too much during the holidays can create the feelings that you never get enough done and that it’s not how you’d like it to be. Here are some tips to help you stay afloat this holiday season.
Stay physically well
will help you have energy for the festivities. Many people feel selfish when they take time for themselves to relax or to care for themselves.
To care for yourself is not a selfish activity, but one that is very necessary in order to have the energy to do the things you would like to do. When you do, you will feel more like you, and others will appreciate you more for it!
Cooperate, delegate, negotiate
Ask your family or other friends for help with planning and preparation. Or, if your alone for the holidays, organize an event to spend time with others who may also be alone.
Solicit the cooperation of others with a compliment. For instance, “I really loved the apple tarts you brought to dinner this summer. Would you mind making those again for this year’s holiday dinner?”
If your family events are a mixed blessing (great for the first hour-before the claws come out), negotiate with others about what you are and are not willing to do.
For instance, “I am looking forward to seeing everyone, but at the first sign of argument, I am leaving early. I am willing to stay if you can put your differences aside.” By disclosing your boundaries up front, you won’t feel guilty about upholding them.
If you must set a limit about something that doesn’t feel right to you, or that you are not okay with, don’t be afraid to say, “That won’t work for me.” It says everything without having to justify anything.
Keep your expectations realistic
If each year you stress yourself out at the holidays and think, “Next year, I’m going to do this differently,” take note. Many times we think that we should or must do or have certain things to have a happy holiday season.
If you simply change the way you think, you can change how you feel about the situation. For example, make a list of the things that you would like to have happen. Then prioritize your tasks to work towards those goals most important to you.
“Shoulding” on yourself only serves to heighten your own stress. You are only human after all, and if certain things are not done, the world will not fall off of its axis. Be clear, with yourself and with others, about what is feasible and ask for help when things feel overwhelming.
Take time to let go and relax
Isabel’s book pick of the month – The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling (Author)
David’s book pick of the month – Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance: 25th Anniversary Edition: An Inquiry into Values by Robert Pirsig