Stay your Team through the Holidays: Maintaining Relationships with Grace
No doubt about it the holiday season is hard. Often portrayed as a time of joy,
love, and togetherness, for many of us, that’s not how it has been. Depending on
your own life story, holidays can bring a mixture of memories-happy, joyful,
serene, comforting, or sad, angry, loss, abuse, loneliness, and longing. Differences
in those memories for couplets can be a BIG source of stress and strain on our
relationships. Balancing the demands of shopping, decorating, cooking, and
socializing can put a significant strain on our mental and emotional well-being,
making it challenging to maintain healthy relationships. But it is possible to sit the
old aside and create a new set of holiday memories that you both share as wonder-
filled experiences. With some thoughtful strategies and a bit of effort, you can not
only survive the holiday season with your relationships intact but find a way to
enjoy all the grace the holiday has to bring you together.
- Open Communication
The foundation of any healthy relationship is open and honest communication.
During the holidays, it’s important to talk through what you want and don’t want
from the holidays. This is a time to negotiate what is important to each of you and
find a way to merge what you each need. Sometimes there are old traditions to
work through. Remember that each of you may have different preferences, and
stress triggers. Try to find ways where you can both enjoy the time and make new
traditions for yourselves. Keep the lines of communication open with your loved
ones. By sharing your feelings and listening to your partner, you can find common
ground and compromise for the happiest season ever.
- Prioritize Self-Care
Stress often stems from neglecting self-care. Don’t forget to take care of yourself
amidst the holiday chaos-this is huge. Prioritize activities that help you relax and
recharge, whether it’s meditation, exercise, reading, or spending time with a close
friend. When you prioritize self-care, you’ll both be better equipped to handle the
demands of the season and be more present in your relationships. You can each
only bring your best to the relationship when you are physically and mentally well.
- Set Realistic Expectations
One common source of holiday stress is unrealistic expectations. We tend to
picture the perfect holiday, complete with flawlessly decorated homes, gourmet
meals, and harmonious family gatherings. Check yourself… the Hallmark
Christmas Movies are not real! Instead of striving for perfection, you and your
partner have to work as a strong team to set realistic expectations for yourself and
your loved ones. Budget is important. Don’t incur debt to make your holiday
special. There are lots of things you can do to express your gratitude and
appreciation for each other and your loved ones without spending money. Get
creative. One of my favorite gifts ever was a set of homemade coupons for a
carwash, hugs when I really need it, dinner when I am tired, cleaning the bathroom
when I am busy, cutting the grass, etc. Accept that imperfections are a part of life
and that holiday mishaps can make for cherished memories and inside jokes in the
- Create Boundaries
Setting boundaries is essential for preserving your mental and emotional well-
being during the holidays. Decide how much you can realistically commit to in
terms of social events, gift-giving, and other holiday activities. Don’t be afraid to
say “no” when necessary and protect your personal time and space. Don’t cancel
your date night. Keep your team close and remember what priority for your
relationship is. Communicate your boundaries respectfully to others and encourage
them to do the same.
- Share Responsibilities
If you’re hosting holiday gatherings or responsible for meal preparations, don’t
hesitate to ask for help. Sharing responsibilities can ease the burden and make the
holidays more enjoyable for everyone involved. Enlist the help of family members,
friends, or even consider catering or potluck-style gatherings to distribute the
workload evenly. It can be a lot more fun when everyone pitches in.
- Embrace Flexibility
The holidays rarely go exactly as planned, so it’s essential to embrace flexibility.
Unexpected challenges can arise, such as travel delays, weather disruptions, or
last-minute changes in plans. Remember the pandemic? We weren’t even
“allowed” to have a family gathering! Instead of letting these moments ruin the
holiday spirit, adapt and find ways to make the best of the situation. Sometimes,
the most memorable moments come from spontaneous and unplanned experiences.
Consider an act of kindness by delivering meals to the elderly, volunteering at a
Blue/Brown Santa event, take a group of kids to see Santa and pop some popcorn
for a snack! The holidays are a great time to share with your community.
- Practice Gratitude
Amidst the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it’s easy to forget the true
meaning of gratitude. Take time to reflect on what you’re thankful for and
encourage your loved ones to do the same. Expressing gratitude can shift your
focus away from stressors and towards the positive aspects of your relationships
and holiday experiences.
Every team has to be ready for the game. They spend hours preparing mind and
body, they don’t just show up unprepared. Your team is just the same. Maintaining
relationships through the stress of the holidays requires intention, communication,
and self-care. By setting realistic expectations, creating boundaries, and practicing
gratitude, you can not only survive the holiday season but also strengthen your
connections with loved ones. Remember that the holidays are about cherishing
moments with those who matter most, and appreciating the opportunities you have
in sharing a lifetime of amazing experiences. With a little effort, you can make this
season one to remember for all the right reasons.