Positive Psychology Tips For a Stress-Free Holiday

The holidays can be a hectic and stressful time, and even if your schedule is light this December, you may find that the emotional pressure is greater than usual. After a year that has been difficult, disappointing or even devastating, you might be feeling the need to make the holidays picture-perfect for your children.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to create a magical experience for your family — as long as you remember to include yourself! 

We asked one of our Ruggish moms, Dr. Zelana Montminy, to share some advice for a happy and healthy holiday season. Here are Dr. Zelana’s tips to make December a happy time for moms AND their families:

  1. Take care of you.

    Social conditioning encourages women — especially mothers — to value selflessness and sacrifice. But you can’t take care of others unless you take care of yourself. When your personal needs are left unfulfilled, it’s hard to show up for your family the way that you want to. That’s true even at the best of times, and particularly true when you are experiencing the extra stress that many of us are feeling this year. Remember the “oxygen mask” rule — in the event of an emergency, you need to put on your own mask before you help others around you. Dr. Zelana recommends making sure you carve out some “me” time, marking it in your calendar if necessary, and letting your family know that you need that time for yourself. Even just five minutes sitting alone in the car, listening to a favorite song, can make a difference in your day!

  2. Keep up your social connections.

    In the year of “social distancing,” we may have to make more of an effort to keep in touch with the people we care about. In fact, the CDC specifically recommends connecting with others to help you cope with pandemic-related stress. Whether it’s a group chat, a Zoom call or a distanced outdoor conversation, Dr. Zelana stresses the importance of being intentional about cultivating connectivity to help you keep going.

  3. Cut yourself some slack!

    Some things won’t get done, or they won’t come out exactly as you intended… and that’s OK. There is no such thing as perfect — and when your children are grown up and they look back on this holiday season, they won’t remember if the cookie dough was storebought or homemade, or if there was a holiday card with professional photos, or whether Santa brought exactly the right toy. Give yourself a break, Dr. Zelana advises; talk to yourself with as much kindness and care as you would treat your best friend. 

  4. Focus on gratitude.

    Remember our recent post about embracing gratitude? Dr. Zelana says it’s especially important to practice gratitude at this time of the year when it’s easy to get carried away. She recommends taking time to be quiet and present and truly experience the small moments of joy and togetherness that are what the season is all about.

    “What we have,” she says, “is enough.”

Follow @dr.zelana on Instagram for more great insight and information about mental health, positive psychology and resilience!

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