The holiday season can be a big source of stress when it comes to relationships, especially with family and friends.
A survey commissioned by JoyOrganics of 2,000 Americans revealed that 88% of people believe the holidays are the most stressful time of the year. And 84% feel an influx of stress starting as early as November. The survey also revealed that 67% of people seem to place an unnecessary amount of pressure on themselves to produce the “perfect” holiday, with 47% admitting they typically take on more than they can handle each year.
In fact, a startling 77% of respondents said they have a very hard time relaxing during the holidays, usually feeling more stressed and worn down than ever.
The good news?
There are six simple ways you can enjoy that extra time spent with family and friends, to help you relax MORE and build deeper and more meaningful connections.
Reminisce About Good Times
If the holidays are one of the few times that you get to see certain people, it may feel challenging to forge strong bonds. One of the ways that you can build a deeper connection is to reminisce about the good times you’ve shared over the years. Remember fun holiday traditions and share memories of loved ones past together.
Taking a walk down memory lane can help you both focus on the things that have bonded you together. For friends, that might be thinking about the times you’ve supported each other or the fun festive things you’ve done together. For couples, positive reminiscence has been shown to improve intimacy and communication.
Communication is Key
There’s always a fun and celebratory element to the holidays, but for many people there’s also a great deal of stress attached to this time of year. This can mean that people hide their emotions and don’t let know how they’re really feeling.
Check in with people you care about over the holidays and make a point of talking about how you’re both feeling. They’ll be super appreciative that you care enough to reach out, and if they are struggling, taking the time to listen and support them is a simple yet really effective way to strengthen your relationship. Strong family relationships and friendships have great communication and listen to one other. And you don't have to share the same perspective to listen.
This might seem obvious, but if you’ve got a busy season lined up, spending quality time together at the dinner table can fall down on the priority list. And that’s a missed opportunity to add a bit more depth to your relationships over the holidays by talking and sharing about your day. When you do get chance to sit down and eat with family and friends, it’s super important to make sure it’s quality time without distractions -- no television, no smartphones.
This can be easier said than done during the holidays, with so much fun food and festive television offerings, but it really is important for your relationships to be totally present in conversations, especially with those you don’t see on a regular basis. If you don’t normally sit down together for mealtimes, make it more of a priority during the holidays and use it as a chance to build deeper connections.
Offer a Helping Hand
The holidays can be a stressful time with increased commitments and obligations, especially for anyone who's tasked with organizing holiday events. If it’s not going to stretch you too thin, offer to lend a helping hand with holiday planning, meal prep, or watching the kids.
Being aware of what others are juggling and stepping in to offer support is a great way to let someone know that you care. And lending a hand is an act of service that can his can be a part of your self care too, as thinking of others and doing good deeds is linked to better self esteem and mental health.
Embrace the Holidays
Getting into the holiday spirit can help bring you closer to loved ones and friends. Whether it's creating some fun festive foods and drinks (which kiddos often love to be a part of too!), embracing family traditions, playing holiday games, or enjoying festive outings, look at the holidays as an opportunity to have fun and take part in activities that create memories and will help forge deeper connections with the people in your life.
When was the last time you showed the people around you how much you appreciate them? The holiday season can be a great time to show gratitude for the people in your life. Studies show offering compliments and showing appreciation for others strengthens relationships and increases feelings of happiness toward one another. And it's a simple way to highlight the little things people do for you that can often go unnoticed, especially during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.
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