This year comes with its own particular set of holiday stressors.
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Each year brings its own set of holiday stressors.

Even in normal circumstances holidays can be stressful. However, the 2021 holiday season seems to add stress.

There are two global supply chain issuesConcerns and questions about omicron coronavirus variant, it’s no wonder many of us are feeling a little extra anxious this year as we try to purchase gifts, plan gatherings and spread some holiday cheer. But that doesn’t mean the situation is hopeless.

This year, we asked mental health professionals for their suggestions on how to cope with holiday season stress. Continue reading for their advice.

Take into account your priorities

When you’re feeling stressed about gift shopping and supply chain delays, give yourself a moment to pause and take stock of your priorities around the holiday season. Do you consider buying the best gifts to be the most important? Most likely, no.

“At the end of the day, the holidays are about gratitude and love,” said Ibinye Osibodu-Onyali, a licensed marriage and family therapist at the Zinnia PracticeMurrieta in California. “Whether or not you’re able to find all the gifts you want to get, focus on the love around you. Remind your loved ones about the bond that you share and begin to create memories that no supply chain trouble can take away from you.”

Children are your role models.

If you celebrate Christmas, “remind kids that Christmas is not just about gift-giving, but a special time to spend together as a family,” said Maryanna KlattProfessor of Clinical Family and Community Medicine and Director of Integrative Medicine at University of Toronto the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

Her suggestion was to tell your children what your favourite part of Christmas season as a kid. Tell your kids about special moments and tell them about your family history.

“This is a great starting place for them to feel a connection with their extended family that may no longer be around,” Klatt said. “Another gift you can give your children this year ― a sense that they are part of something larger than themselves, a teaching moment for the truth about the interconnectedness of being human.”

Concentrate on the things you can control.

Thinking about all the uncertainty regarding the future of the pandemic ― especially in light of the omicron variant ― might feel frightening and overwhelming. The bigger picture of global health is beyond your control.

“My advice would be to focus on the here and now, meaning deal with the things that are affecting you directly and try not to focus on what ifs,” said Saniyyah MayoLos Angeles, licensed marital and family therapist.

If you’re concerned about your family’s health, ensure that you’re up to date on public health recommendations, like getting COVID-19 vaccinations and booster shots and wearing masks in public spaces.

“Know what your comfort level is when celebrating this year. Opt for small get-togethers if you do not feel comfortable being in a crowd,” Osibodu-Onyali said. “This would be a great time to create boundaries that are comfortable for you.”

Global supply chain issues, while not something that you can directly control, are still things you have some power over. holiday shopping done earlier than usual. Prepare well. Also, it is possible to spend more time on holiday planning and decorating.

“Regarding what you can control, ask yourself, ‘What do I want to be sure happens this holiday season?’” Klatt said. “That way you can focus your attention on what is truly a priority for you and your family.”

Make this the year you start new holiday traditions with your family.
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You can make this year the year that you create new traditions for your family.

Make new traditions.

This holiday season is not about focusing on challenges and what may be different. Instead, look at it as an opportunity to learn something.

“If gift-giving plans fall through, this is the perfect year to start a new Christmas tradition,” Klatt said.

She advised bonding with the family through caroling around your neighbourhood or driving around looking at holiday lights.

“Get Christmas nighties for kids to wear on Christmas Eve,” Klatt said. “Involve kids in the kitchen by passing down a Christmas recipe. Or teach your kids how to ‘be Santa’ by bringing cookies that they baked with you to neighbors who may be homebound this holiday season. This way they can experience firsthand the joy of giving.”

Prioritize self-care.

While it’s wonderful to focus on others during the holiday season, don’t forget about your own well-being.

“Make self-care your priority,” Klatt said. “It helps to make a list of calming activities ahead of time that gives you the much-needed break you need among all the holiday chaos.”

To increase your chances of actually doing them, she suggested that you add some self-care activities to your schedule for the next few weeks.

Backup plans are important.

Ultimately, you might not be able to give your loved ones their prized store-bought items of choice, so it’s worth thinking of some backup options.

“Try to find alternatives for the gifts that you are unable to find, or lean into sentimental gifts this year such as crafts that you make or spending quality time together,” Osibodu-Onyali advised. “What COVID has taught us all is that life is truly precious and we most definitely were not spending enough time together before the pandemic.”

If you’re a parent, talk to your children about the difficulties this year when it comes to their first-choice gifts (even if through the lens of Santa). To reduce disappointment, have a few other gifts on hand and make holiday plans.

And speaking of disappointment ― Klatt emphasized the importance, and the benefits, of modeling to your children how to deal with it.

“If they see you acknowledge the challenges presented by COVID and its collateral impact, and then, most importantly, they see you move beyond a disappointment to find joy in what can come to fruition this holiday season, this is a gift they will take with them throughout their lives,” she said. “The process of acknowledging the difficulty and yet not allowing it to squash happiness is a gift of a lifetime you can give your children during this 2021 holiday season.”


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