?By Nina Tracy
?Updated 12:28 PM ET, Mon Nov 16, 2015
If you are traveling out of town or just down the street to another person’s home there are unique benefits and stressors to this. On the one hand, you don’t have to worry about cleaning up or straightening up your home before people come and after people go. Most likely you aren’t expected to cook the whole meal or provide the entertainment for the guests. However, you do have to drive, fly, or get to your location by some other means of transportation. For some people being away from home can produce anxiety because home is comforting. Maybe you have the added stress on your wallet. In other cases, it could be hard to decide where you will be traveling to because of extended family or you may be traveling to multiple places and seeing multiple families.
For some, it isn’t possible to be with loved ones for the holidays. For example, it may be that you can’t take the days off of work, you may live too far away and it may be too expensive. This can bring up feelings of sadness and loneliness. On the other hand, you may be choosing not to spend time with others for whatever reason, and this can be a stress inducer or relief in itself.
With all of the “should” and “should nots” of the holiday season, it is important to remember what is important for you and those around you rather than trying to fit a mold or standard set by others. Regardless of where you will be during the holidays, here are a few tips to help you with self care so that you can try to make the best of whatever and wherever you will be during the holidays!
*Don’t be afraid to set boundaries for yourself.
If being around your family for hours and days at a time is an overwhelming thought, set some time for yourself. This will help to ensure that the time you do spend together is more pleasant than forcing yourself to be around them constantly which can lead to stress building up and impact people’s moods. Sometimes it can be helpful to take a little “time out” from being around the crowd, make it a point to do something of your choosing for a bit each day.
*Have a safety blanket.
This doesn’t need to be an actual blanket (although it could be!) but have something with you that can help to bring you a sense of calm or ease. It could be something small like a worry stone. Have it readily available so that you can access it if you start to feel stress, anxiety, or any sort of emotional discomfort.
*Take deep breaths.
There are some great apps that are available to help guide you through deep breathing exercises. You can also just simply do a self guided short deep breathing exercise. Take a breath in slowly for 5 seconds, hold it for 1 second, and then slowly let it out for another 5 seconds. Repeat a few times and help slow down whatever is happening.
*Make a plan.
Sometimes around the holidays things can get hectic with so many people and things to try to accommodate. Making a plan can help reduce your stress. Even if the plan isn’t followed exactly it can work as an outline to keep things from getting out of hand. Plan a few activities for each day, or schedule in those “time outs” for yourself.
*Don’t forget to communicate.
Be honest and communicate. Often tension, anxiety, and stress arise when we don’t communicate with those around us. If you need help, ask for it. If you need space, ask for it. Being honest and communicating, if done in a non-aggressive way and using “I” statements, can help to avoid added stress and tension. For example, instead of saying “I am leaving, you all are driving me crazy!” try “I am feeling a little overwhelmed right now, I am going to take a little time for myself”.
*Set Up Video Chat
If you are unable to be with family or friends, set up a video chat so that you can virtually be at the meal or spend time with them at some point during the get together.