It’s the most wonderful time of the year, well, at least that’s what the song says. For many out there, the holidays aren’t the most wonderful time of the year. With November being more than half over, the holidays are in full swing. For many, this is an extremely stressful and depressing time of the year. While there really no way to completely avoid these feelings, there are some things you can do to help lessen the impact of these feelings.

At this time of the year, it’s extremely easy to become overwhelmed with things before we realize it has happened. Holiday parties, shopping, holiday decorating and cooking, children’s programs, religious activities, and next thing you know, finding yourself being pulled in twenty different directions and wishing for a cloning machine so you can stay on top of everything. Until that happens, here’s some tips and tricks that can help you with overcoming these feelings of stress and depression.

1. Let Go of Preconceived Ideas

Everyone, and I feel especially those with children, put way too much pressure on themselves to have the perfect holiday and to always be filled with holiday cheer. Totally think of Christmas Vacation here. Think of everything poor Clark Griswold did to make sure his family had the perfect Christmas and the perfect gifts. While everything that happened in the movie is a bit extreme, there’s still a lot of truth to everything that happens. Everyone tries so hard to make everything perfect and then when things don’t go as expected, people tend to explode and it ruins the holiday for everyone involved. Perfection isn’t real! Nobody expects you to have a Martha Stewart-like decorated house and eight-course meal, so don’t expect that from yourself. If you’re worried about getting caught up in having ‘the perfect holiday’, let your dominant know so they can help when they start seeing you turn into Christmaszilla.

2. Make sure to schedule time for yourself

During the holidays, we get so caught up in doing so many other things for other people, we forget to take care of yourselves. Have you heard the saying ‘You can’t pour from an empty cup”? It’s true. If you’re completely zapped, you have nothing to give to others. Not only that, but you’re completely wasted and you can’t enjoy things yourself. Make sure to take time for yourself. If you can’t every day, then strive for at least once a week. Take a bubble bath, have a glass of wine, curl up with a good book, do something you love and recharge those batteries!

3. Schedule, Schedule, Schedule!

Scheduling things ahead of time will help to greatly reduce the amount of stress you’ll have during the holiday times. You’ve heard about bullet journaling, right? If you caught any of the 31 Days to Better Submissive Journaling series, lunaKM devoted several posts of that series to bullet journaling and also contributing writer kallista has also written several articles about using bullet journaling. This is a great way to plan and schedule your holiday activities. What’s happening, where, when, do you need to bring something, writing all these things down where you’re able to see them will help you see what you have going on and an easy way to not double book yourself. Also, before agreeing to anything, tell them you need to check your calendar. This will be a lifesaver! And speaking of possible parties and get-togethers...we’re going to get invites from people to things we really don’t want to go to. But we say yes because we feel obligated. I know this feeling all too well and it’s not pleasant. This is where having a dominant comes in handy. Let them help you keep in check with what you’re scheduling so this way they can make sure you don’t overextend yourself. Also, when you’re scheduling your holiday activities, make sure that you’re scheduling time for yourself (like I mentioned above), but make sure to schedule time for you and your partner together.

4. Make time to connect with your partner

When getting wrapped up in the festivities and family responsibilities on top of all our normal responsibilities, it’s easy to lose contact with your partner. A lot of people don’t realize just how important it is to set aside some private time for just you and your partner, especially during a time filled with a lot of stress that eventually can lead to depression. Yes, you do need time for yourself, but you need time with your partner too, being intimate with your partner(and I’m not just talking sex), does a lot to recharge your batteries.

5. Family  

This is always a difficult topic. A lot of people have family members they absolutely loathe but have to see around the holidays and being around those family members is extremely hard. Sometimes there’s nothing you can do to avoid that. I suggest limiting your time around those family members you find toxic and avoiding them altogether if that’s what is best for you. If members of your biological family cause you way too much stress and anxiety, then spend time with your family of choice. Surrounding yourself with people you want to be around is a great way to survive the holiday season.

For those of you like me, who really want to be with your families at the holidays but can’t due to distance or whatever else, this does cause a lot of stress and depression. Speaking out of personal experience, the holidays are a hard time for me. I love them, but on the other hand, homesickness is the hardest. With the wonders of technology, there are ways we can still keep in contact. Skype, Facetime, or any of the other numerous instant/video messaging apps out there are great for this. Even though there may be a couple hundred or more miles between you and your loved ones, it’s important to make contact with them.

6. Create New or Continue Ongoing Traditions

This one may sound a little weird as a way to deal with stress during the holidays, but for me, this is something that helps me a lot. When I moved to Germany, I thought I would have to give up all my Christmas traditions. Don’t ask me why I thought that way, but I did and it left me really scared and stressed. Even though Germany and the US don’t have the same customs when it comes to Christmas, I’ve had a lot of fun combining the two and it makes the holidays feel a little more, brighter. One thing that I’ve brought with me is every Christmas, I bake a sock-it-to-me cake and buckeyes, both Christmas goodies my grandma made every year and it just isn’t quite Christmas without them, and it’s also a great way to remember my grandma. If you have some family traditions that you love, make sure to carry on with them and share them with your partner and children. If those family traditions don’t have the happy memories to you, then create your own. It can be something as simple as watching a particular movie or making a specific baked good or meal. If you aren’t sure, ask your friends to see what they do and you can also look online for inspiration to start new traditions.

7. Being Alone

Another thing that tends to cause a lot of holiday stress and depression is the lack of having a partner. Whether you’re single or grieving over a lost partner, the holidays are not an easy time to be alone. The holidays are so family oriented and everything you see always has to do with a couple or families, and when you have no one, this is extremely hard to deal with. Also, people are encouraged by society to feel happy because of the holidays and it’s emotionally draining putting up a fake smile all the time. Don’t allow yourself to feel guilty about feeling lonely or depressed during the holidays. You have every right to feel however you feel, society be damned. If you’re dealing with the loss of the partner, make sure to take extra care of yourself and do something to remember and honor your deceased partner. Don’t force yourself to partake in activities you don’t feel comfortable participating in. Another thing you can do if you’re alone is to volunteer somewhere. Shelters and soup kitchens are in need of volunteers during the holiday season more than usual. Check in your local area for volunteer opportunities. I also highly recommending not drinking too much because drinking can make those feelings of depression even stronger. You can click here to check out some websites with tips on how to handle being alone during the holidays.

The holidays can be a stressful time, but they don’t have to be. I hope this article helps to relieve a bit of the holiday stress you may be beginning to feel.