Four Tips to Minimize Stress and Anger This Holiday Season

For many, Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holiday season. We often focus on this time and remember it for it’s joyous reunions, delicious food, and moments of gratitude.

However, we know that this holiday, and the holidays that follow, are also stressful for many people. This stress may be related to increased financial strain, hosting parties, looming “Black Friday” shopping, political discourse at family gatherings, the pressure of seeing immediate and extended family, and greater demands for social functions.

We know that stress leads to anger, resentment, frustration, outbursts, and other actions that we later regret. So, how do you remain calm (and anger free) over the holiday season? Here are four tips to minimize stress and anger during this holiday season:

Tip One: Listen to your Body. We often ignore how our bodies feel. Put simply, when we are stressed, we “push through it.” It is important to learn that your body is the first indicator of how you are feeling. Are you feeling tired or run-down? Do you have pain in your muscles, neck, or back? Does your stomach hurt? Are your hands shakier than usual?  This may be related to stress. Often, your body will let you know that you are feeling stress before your brain does. As a disclaimer, if you are seriously concerned about any medical symptoms, it is best to rule out any other medical conditions with your doctor. However, if you notice you are feeling stressed, take some time to de-stress and do something to help you relax. It will help you to remain calm and focused through the holiday season.

 Tip Two: Manage Expectations. Remember, taking part in holiday celebrations does not mean you have to be perfect. Having the expectation of being perfect is unrealistic. Sometimes things happen that we cannot change, and its best to anticipate that things go wrong. You do not have to set the best table, cook a perfect meal, buy the perfect gift, or look perfect for your looming family photo. Doing your best is both appreciated and enough. Remember, everyone burns the turkey once in a while. Treat yourself with loving-kindness and practice acceptance this holiday season.

Tip Three: Identify and Communicate your Needs. Sometimes, you may find yourself holding back from communicating your needs out of fear of disappointing others. This will not help you to manage stress or prevent anger. Take some time before the holiday season to identify your needs. Do you need to attend every event? If not, pick the ones that are most important to you. Is seeing certain members of your family unhealthy for you? If so, set a boundary and communicate this assertively and respectfully. Do you need time and space to rest? Communicate this and take the time to avoid burnout. Is the political conversation over dinner making you angry? Communicate this by stating how you feel and asking to change the conversation. If that doesn’t work, remove yourself from the conversation and take a break. Knowing what your needs are and communicating them is one of the best ways you can remain balanced during the holiday season.

Tip Four: Take Care of Yourself. The holiday season is often a fun and happy time for many people and family. However, it can also change our schedule, interfere with routines, and create challenges for future planning. Remember the things you do over the year to take care of yourself and commit to sticking with these plans. Do your best to keep exercising, try to eat as balanced and healthy as you can, take breaks as you need to, make sure to attend anger management or counseling sessions, drink enough water, and get enough sleep. If you move away from your habits and routines, you are more at risk for stress, anger and rage.

Use these tips to help you to have a balanced and happy holiday season. We wish you a healthy and happy holiday season from Anger Management U.

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