10 Tips for Drama-free Holidays

Written by Melissa Kessler, MA, PCC

The holidays will soon be upon us, which is a joyful, but stressful time for many people. The holidays involve shopping, cooking, cleaning, decorating, and spending time with people who may be difficult to be around, which can lead to drama. These activities require energy, effort, time, and money, and can cause a lot of stress. Too often, people spend so much time preparing and trying to make everything flawless that they lose sight of what’s most important. The holidays are about spending quality time with loved ones and making happy memories, not about the perfect meal, extravagant decorations, and expensive gifts. Here are some tips for keeping your sanity and reducing stress and drama during the most wonderful, yet taxing time of the year.

10 Drama-free Holiday Tips:

  1. Lower your expectations, or have none at all. Most of our frustrations come from unmet expectations. Don’t expect things to be perfect, and don’t expect people to behave according to your standards. Things go wrong, and people will be who they are, especially during the holidays.
  2. Don’t make assumptions. We often assume the worst by misinterpreting others’ actions. We also assume that people will do things the way that we would. We are usually wrong in both cases. Ask, clarify and make requests rather than making assumptions.
  3. Choose your battles, or choose not to battle at all. Tensions can be high during the holidays. It may be tempting to lash out in the heat of the moment, but this can ruin relationships, the entire the day, and memories.
  4. Choose being happy over being right. Getting upset over what someone else says or does negatively affects you. Trying to prove that you are right will drain your energy and strain relationships. Instead remember that others are entitled to their opinions, beliefs, values and perspectives, which may be different from yours.
  5. Set an intention for your state of being. Think about how you want to behave and feel while visiting with family and friends during the holidays. Then act in accordingly. You have control over your actions and feelings regardless of the situation. Be the person you want to be, and don’t let others take away your joy.
  6. Remind yourself of what’s most important. While making all the preparations, keep in mind what’s most important to you and what the holidays are really about, rather than getting consumed and stressed by all of it.
  7. Ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” Remind yourself of the reason that you are doing anything. Is it because you really want to and because it will bring you or others joy, or is it out of obligation, to impress others, or because you are expecting something in return? The former will cause happiness, while the latter will cause resentment. Put your energy and effort into the right things for the right reasons.
  8. Stop ruminating. We cause a lot of our own stress by replaying negative situations over and over in our minds, or obsessively worrying about bad things that haven’t happened yet. Get out of your head and into the present moment.
  9. Be present. The only time we have is right now in this moment. The past is over and the future is not here yet. Be present to what you are doing and experiencing through your five senses in this moment instead of thinking in your mind. Be here now and pay attention to what’s right in front of you.
  10. Be grateful. Gratitude is the gateway to happiness, resilience and well-being. Focus on what you have to be grateful for instead of what you don’t have or what’s not going right. What you focus on expands, so pay more attention to the positive than the negative. There is a lot to be grateful for if you start noticing. Gratitude causes happiness, and not the other way around. If you want to be happy, then choose to be grateful.

May you enjoy every moment of this holiday season, make joyful memories, and act in ways  that you will be proud to look back on for years to come.

 “Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse.” – Henry Van Dyke

“I am thankful for all difficult people in my life; they have shown me exactly who I do not want to be. Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” – Melody Beattie


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