While there are a great many good tips for reducing the stress you might feel with the holidays – and many of those tips are very positive steps indeed – even the tips can seem like just one more thing to remember, if the stress is already upon you.

“Making a list” is always a good suggestion for getting tasks to seem more manageable. But “checking it twice” may just be a classic example of a holiday tradition we’d be better off without.

It’s Basically an Inside Job

The truth is, expectations are the source of most holiday stress – or at least they’re right up there with procrastination! The case could be made that even procrastination is just one stress reaction to the pressure of holiday expectations.

And the expectations of others are not really the primary stressor. In fact, most of the expectations we attribute to others are really our own. We just assign them to our loved ones, our workmates, and those around us as we approach the holidays. It’s actually a pretty safe bet that if we asked them, they’d rather have us at ease than fulfilling what we think they expect.

Bigger Than Santa’s Bag: The Expectations of the Past

Just as our stress comes not so much from others, but from our own expectations, so also most holiday stress comes from what we demand of ourselves, based on our memories of the past. “The ghost of Christmas past” is not just a character from Dickens, but also a very real burden most of us carry into our holiday preparations.

The key to disarming this burden is to realize that our holiday memories were formed through the wide, innocent eyes we had as children. Isn’t it just possible that our own parents and caregivers might not really have been as perfect as we remember them? Rather, isn’t it possible that the free hearts we carried into those Holidays enabled us to experience them in ways that would be hard to live up to today.

Getting the Most from Holidays – and Life

Instead, let’s find moments this holiday season to get quiet, breathe deeply, and think back simply to the hearts we had as children. Let’s breathe in the spirit of the Holidays and breathe out the expectations.

As a family medical practice our lives are dedicated to helping you get the most out of your life. Let the grateful feeling that comes with your Holidays be a reminder. Just call us at 843-815-6468.