Holiday Expectations Stressing You Out? Here’s What To Do

Who doesn't want a perfect Christmas? The flawless tree. Dinner without a hitch. But having holiday expectations that are out of reach can be stressful, too. Here's how to get realistic about Christmas so this holiday season is your best one yet.

Women are often applauded — or criticized — for being emotional caretakers and trying to make sure everyone else is happy. So it’s no surprise we have high holiday expectations.

The Problem

It’s not a realistic or healthy way to negotiate relationships and comes at a great cost to yourself, says Teri Sota, MD, a clinical psychologist in Toronto. “If you’re not balancing your own needs, whether it’s rest, taking time for yourself or pursuing things you actually want to do, you’ll usually feel distress, lack balance and experience strain in relationships with others.”

A Case of Supermom Syndrome

Dr. Sota says that it’s especially easy to lose sight of your own needs during the holidays, when you’re trying to meet all the additional demands and obligations that come with the season. “Inappropriate guilt that can lead to shame comes from the ‘shoulds’ we have for ourselves and how we live in the minds of others. When we experience shame, we create a story about ourselves that we’re not good enough, or not worthy but what we need to do is have a little more self-compassion.” (Here’s how guilt from the supermom syndrome can affect your health.)

You Can’t Please Everyone

Sometimes, she says, you need to be OK with the fact that you can’t always come through and accept that sometimes you’re going to disappoint other people. “Come to terms with the fact that you won’t always be able to tie it all up with a bow and that everyone is going to be happy,” she says. Try staying calm and practicing mindfulness to keep stressful thoughts at bay.

Show Yourself Compassion

To make it easier to step back and connect with feelings of compassion for yourself, it might help to turn things around and look at the situation from a completely different perspective, says Dr. Sota. “If your dearest friend was in this position, how would you help and advise her? What would she need? The rules we have for ourselves are sometimes so rigid compared to our rules for others. It helps to step out of your own experience once in a while.” Then, take the understanding and compassion you’d show to your friend and try to offer some to yourself with the same warmth and caring. And don’t feel guilty about that.

Next, don’t miss these feng shui tricks to help you beat stress this holiday season.

Originally Published in Best Health Canada