Are the holidays the most miserable time of year?


Are the holidays the most miserable time of year?

The holiday season is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, isn’t it?

But for some — all of the decorating, shopping, longer hours at the office, obligatory family gatherings — can make it feel more like the most miserable time of the year.

But stop, slow down, and don’t let the busyness of the season drive you batty.

Steve Siebold, a local mental toughness coach who is the author of “177 Mental Toughness Secrets of The World Class,” ($16.99;London House Press) and also a former professional tennis player, offers these 7 tips to help reduce the stress of the holidays and make it more enjoyable:

Slow down: Life is challenging enough as it is, and with all the extra commitments and things that have to get done this time of year, it can cause panic and chaos for even the most mentally tough people. When you find yourself moving a million miles an hour, take a step back and slow down. Instead of getting overwhelmed in everything you have to do, focus on one task at a time. Looking at one thing in front of you compared to the big picture makes it much more manageable.

Ask for help: There’s no reason you have to do everything by yourself during the holiday season. Ask for help. If you’re hosting Christmas dinner, for example, ask your spouse or children to help with the shopping, cooking, decorating, setting up the guest bedroom, taking out the trash, walking the dog, etc.

Don’t feel bad about saying ‘No:’ There’s only so much time in a day, and with all the extra commitments at the holidays, don’t feel guilty about telling people ‘no.’ A very simple response to soften it is, “I would normally love to help; however, I already have so much on my plate right now. I’ll have to pass on the offer. I would love to help another time.”

Take a break: If the holiday season gets to be too much, take a break. Put everything down for a day and go do something you really enjoy. If you feel a day is too long, take 30 minutes to an hour and go for a walk, spend time doing something fun with a friend, take your kids to the park, read a new book, work on your business plan for the New Year, watch TV or whatever it is that will take your mind off of the holidays.

Talk it out: It’s never a good idea to keep your feelings bottled up inside. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed out, talk to a close friend you can confide in, a therapist or try journaling. In fact, become your own best means of support and talk to yourself. Put things in perspective and tell yourself the craziness of the holiday season will only last for a few weeks and then life goes back to normal. Tell yourself it’s only temporary and that you can hang tough a little longer.

Lower your expectations: Many people have ridiculously high expectations of what the holidays are supposed to be like. Stop paying attention to what you see on TV. Stop being influenced by those holiday catalogs. Take the pressure off and just let the holidays play out naturally.

Focus on being rather than doing: One of the best ways to find happiness this time of year is to focus on being rather than doing. Make a list of the 10 things you are most grateful for in your life, and review them every morning for the month of December. Monitor how this simple activity impacts your emotions.

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