Strategies for Holiday Stress Video, Part 1
In the following video, Stefanie Hughes discusses how to handle the holiday stress while dealing with family dysfunction, or buying gifts within your budget. Stefanie is a marriage and family therapist in McDonough, GA. She is responding to questions that Muscogee Moms collected in an October 2018 survey on how to handle holiday stress.
Remember, the information provided is not a replacement for therapy. So should you have specific questions or need help with a specific issue, please reach out to your health care provider. You can also reach out to a therapist via Tele Counseling – a method of virtual counseling.
Holiday Stress and Family Dysfunction
What do you do when your relatives do not bring Yuletide cheer? What do you do when your relatives continue to breed threads of dysfunction.
Number one, you have to be in a place of acceptance. There is nothing you can do to control or deter someone from being dysfunctional. But you have a responsibility to yourself. So make sure you know your limits. Know what is acceptable to you and what is now. Once you know your limits, then impose boundaries.
For example, If you’re invited to a holiday brunch and you know that Aunt Sara causes challenges when you see her. You may go to the brunch, but your engagement with Aunt Sara will be limit. You say, “Happy Holidays” to Aunt Sara, but you don’t sit at the same end of the table as she does. And again know your limits. If Aunt Sara starts to get a little heighten–or if she engages in libations, and that seems to cause a challenge every time the family gets together–then you know that’s your limit. And that’s when you exit stage right.
So, know your limits and know your boundaries. Do not avoid people during the holiday season, unless they have caused previous stress from a place of trauma. You don’t need to re-traumatize yourself. So give yourself permission to exit from that experience altogether. If it evokes some kind of traumatizing memory for you. That isn’t healthy or is it necessary. It may be that your family simply needs some time apart so that you can continue to heal from previous experiences.
Holiday Stress and Buying Gifts on a Budget
You may not like this answer, however, I’m going to tell you anyway. The first thing is you have to know your value system. If your value is sentiment – if it’s connecting for the holidays – then that’s the way you’re raising your children also. If the emphasis is not on materialistic things, don’t switch up just because it’s the holiday season.
If you know you’re on a budget, then the most important thing you need to do plan and strategize. So Lay-Aways are great things to have. There is nothing wrong with them. It allows you to have a plan and to stay within your budget.
Another way you can stay within your budget is to buy family gifts opposed to several individual gifts. A great example is a 3-month subscription to Netflix. That’s going to cover the whole family. It’s not going to cost you a lot bunch of money. Everybody in the family is going to watch and see something they enjoy for their entertainment, as well as do something as a family. And it keeps you within your budget.
One of the best gifts I ever received was from a cousin who was raised like my brother. He gave me a Christmas card and he wrote a letter of sentiment on the card. He couldn’t afford a gift, but he gave everybody these really nice Christmas cards with this beautiful artwork on the front. But the most important thing was the letter on the inside. He passed away several years ago. I still have that Christmas card. It brings me so much joy to be able to look back at the letter he wrote. It’s a way for me to honor his legacy. And it’s a way for me to really appreciate and get back to my value system which is sentiment and connection.
Now, when you’re working with a budget, again, you have to be honest with yourself. You can’t allow the stressors of societal norms or other people to guide during this season. You have to be brave enough to stand in that. You’ll be able to teach others the value of the season if you’re brave enough to stand in your truth.
So, I encourage you to do that. To stay within your budget. Make sure you give yourself permission to stay within your budget. You don’t want to be stressed out come January 1st because you overspent. So stay focused. Stay within your value system. And find non-traditional ways to still honor your loved ones and friends, but do it in a very unique way and in a way that stays within your limits.
Happy Holidays, everyone!
Stefanie Hughes is a licensed marriage and family therapist with over 20 years experience in the mental health profession. Her specialties include sex therapy and hypnotherapy. If you have additional questions or would like to book an appointment with Stefanie, please visit her website or call 470-601-2088. Stephanie is available on Fridays for Tele Counseling via Video or Phone using a free downloadable, confidential app.