Holiday stress can place a burden on your relationship.
Anytime that you are under stress, it can affect your partnership. The holidays are particularly challenging for many people. They often trigger seasonal depression and anxiety. If you plan to see family members, then you might face stress from those interactions.
Even if holidays aren’t necessarily a problem for you individually, they can still stress you as a couple. After all, people place a lot of expectations on the holiday experience. When things don’t pan out as planned, you can get upset.
Don’t worry, though. Holiday stress doesn’t have to tear you apart. In fact, it can bring you closer together.
Many people think of the holidays as a time to surprise one another. However, it is often best to be clear and transparent instead. Sit down together and discuss your hopes and expectations for the holidays. Things to consider include:
- How much time you’ll spend together and apart
- Who you expect to spend time with, where, and the time period
- What feelings you have about holiday travel
- What your favorite traditions are
- Types of gifts to give one another
This way, you know what to expect. You can also work out issues before too much holiday stress has built up.
Know Your Holiday Stress Triggers
Some things will naturally stress you out more than others. Be aware of what those things are. Avoid them when possible. If you can’t, then build in a lot of self-care, both alone and together.
For example, maybe you know that Thanksgiving dinner with your in-laws is very stressful for you. However, you have agreed to go because you know that it’s important to your spouse. Build in time for self-care before and after that Thursday. Make sure that you do something to connect with your spouse as well.
In return, discuss your partner’s stressors. Be mindful of what they need and do your best to help.
This is a season for gratitude. We would all do well to carry that sentiment through the rest of the year as well. Focusing on what we appreciate makes it easier to let other things go. Here are some ways to practice gratitude to reduce holiday stress:
- Write down three things every day that made you happy.
- Make a list of everything you truly love about the holidays.
- Tell your partner the things you appreciate about them.
- Share around the holiday table the things you’re grateful for.
- When holiday stress hits, review your gratitude lists.
Be quick to say thank you. Be quick to apologize. React slowly to negative triggers.
Focus on Giving, not Getting
This is in keeping with the theme of gratitude. Turn your attention to ways that you can give. Then you won’t be concerned about not getting what you want this holiday season. Of course, you can focus on what to give your partner (think emotionally, not materially.) However, think beyond yourselves as well. Find ways to work together to be of service to others in your community. This will strengthen your bond while reducing holiday stress.
Keep that Spark Burning
Couples often find themselves drifting apart due to holiday stress. There is just so much to do at this time of year. It’s all too easy to get wrapped up in the activities without really connecting with your partner. However, it is also the perfect time for connection, as long as you are willing to make that effort. Here are some ideas:
- Go on holiday dates – ice skating, light tours, etc.
- Get cozy together at home with hot cocoa, blankets, and snuggles
- Remind each other of past holidays spent together
- Share stories about childhood holidays and traditions
- De-emphasize gifts, re-emphasize time together
Holiday stress can get the best of anyone. Therapy can provide a terrific support during this difficult time of year. Learn about how I can help here.