This is the scenario that played out in my head when I thought to write about ways we can manage holiday pressure – how it has become a self imposed tradition for young Igbo men in Nigeria to travel to their home town to celebrate Christmas in flashy cars and outfits.
This is somehow supposed to be a proof of how well they live or how much money they have made so far. Think of it as a report card you show off to your peers and family every year.
Although this is not a written tradition, some young men in the Igbo tribe use this as a yardstick for success and hustle hard to make sure they live up to expectation. This behavior is not peculiar to just Nigerian Igbo men as we have seen hollywood movies with the same story line.
The holiday period is normally a great time to bond and be happy, but there are cases where family dinners turn to a questioning session for spinsters and they have to explain why they do not have a man yet, families want to outshine each other, married women want to be the best daughter in law and men want to brag about their accomplishments over dinner.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with talking about your big and small wins in the midst of your nuclear and external family, but it has also been established that the lack thereof (especially during holiday period) comes with a lot of stress, worry, self doubt and anxiety. During the holiday, there is also the long list of obligations with little time or lack of fund – hence, the need to know how to manage holiday pressure.
Possible Triggers Of Holiday Pressure.
Before we talk about how to manage holiday pressure, here are some things that can trigger holiday pressure:
1. High Expectation From Family And Friends.
This should definitely top the list for possible triggers of holiday pressure. Do you agree?
Just like the Igbo men in Nigeria love to travel to their home town to celebrate christmas, many families in different parts of the world love to organize family reunions, joint dinner and activities.
This means that you have to put up with answering personal questions like why you are not married yet, why you are not cooking for everyone, why you have lost so much weight, how well you are doing in school, the list is endless. Everyone is basically accessing everyone’s achievement or lack of one.
Some friends and family members have no understanding of privacy and mindfulness, so thinking about these meet ups already have you worried before the actual meet up day.
2. Excessive Commitments.
When you have more obligations than you can handle (whether work or personal) and the holiday period is fast approaching, there is every tendency that you will start to feel pressured.
3. Anxiety and Overthinking.
One of the easiest ways to feel pressured during the festive season is overthinking. You make a mountain from a mole hill, you assume the worst and do not try to find a solution, you try to figure out the other person’s thought about you e.t.c
Thinking so much about things you need to do without finding ways to make them better is the wrong way to go about it. It triggers holiday pressure and if you do not manage your thought process, it might affect every decision you make before / during the holiday.
4. Lack Of Funds.
This is a no brainer. Imagine not having cash to spend on the basic things you need to have a lovely holiday, imagine not being able to buy gifts for your kids or provide for the family.
Whether it is the basic needs or the ‘nice to haves’ that you lack funds for, holiday pressure can set it in.
5. Unhealthy Comparison.
Unhealthy Comparison will set you up for unnecessary pressure during the festive season. It is the quickest way to stall your happiness and creativity. It breeds jealousy and hate.
6. Holiday Blues.
Sometimes, It is just holiday blues that causes the pressure. You have not been home for so long and you feel terribly nervous about traveling back home, seeing everyone e.t.c
7. Being Around People Who Are Not Mentally Aware.
If you have been diagnosed to have a mental health situation, holiday pressure is one that should be managed carefully.
The reason is, you might find yourself among friends and family members who are not mentally aware, who do not know the right way to communicate with you and who basically do not understand why you are the way you are.
The things they do or say can be a trigger.
Ways To Manage Holiday Pressure.
I will like to believe everyone knows the importance of planning and how failure to plan is actually a plan to fail. Apart from planning, here are other stress free ways to manage holiday pressure:
This is such an important process especially if you want to manage holiday pressure. The holiday season comes with big plans, lofty dreams and excitement. This means that we try to put things in place, expect certain people to keep their promises, expect family and friends to behave a certain way e.t.c
However, things are not always how we want them to be. We get disappointed and stress starts to creep in, the food turns out bard and we panic e.t.c To ensure you are not overwhelmed with holiday pressure, it is important to manage your expectations.
Emotional Intelligence is more than just words and what we know, it is more about our actions.
It is the ability to recognize our emotions and that of others, being discerning and able to manage different individuals and experiences.
During the holiday, you may be confronted with different personalities in the family, there will be obvious differences but if you already practice emotional intelligence, you have the perfect response, know what arguments to overlook and can go about your day without mental or emotional stress.
3. Have A Safe Spot /Person.
Having too much on your plate? You know that moment when you cannot handle the activities anymore and just want to getaway, prepare an actual plan before time.
You can manage holiday pressure by having a getaway plan on the side. It can be a person who you can share your grievances with, who understands you and can actually make you feel better just by listening to him/her speak.
It can be a quiet place just to find solitude. A room for alone time, go for a walk, deep your feet in water and just zone out from all the holiday noise.
4. Avoid Comparison.
Theodore Roosevelt describes comparison as the thief of joy.
Iyanla Vanzant describes comparison as an act of violence against one’s self.
I can go on with a number of quotes that discourages one from comparing themselves to anybody. It steals your joy when you intentionally seek out differences in your life and that of another person.
To manage holiday pressure, avoid comparison, be your biggest cheer leader, count your blessing, celebrate your wins and be your own kind of beautiful, work on creating the life your deserve and be a better version of you.
5. Avoid Self Imposed Pressure.
With comparison comes self imposed pressure. You want to have what the next person or family has, you want your family to have the same holiday activities just like your neighbors.
Avoid the pressure to live a certain lifestyle, avoid the pressure create an impression that will stress you, avoid the pressure to have the best clothes or pictures, avoid the pressure to give the best gifts or go on the best picture worthy trips.
When you make things you clearly cannot handle a priority (especially when you can do without them), you end up being under stress.
Basically, you can manage holiday pressure by doing only things that are within your means. Do not make the holiday season about what people will think of your meal or your decor or other mundane things. Instead, focus on the most important things like spending quality time with family and friends.
6. Practice Self-Care.
This is important so that you can keep yourself in check during the holiday. Eat healthy and in the right proportion so you do not fall ill, exercise to stay active and reduce moodiness, practice gratitude, constantly use positive affirmations, have meaningful thoughts, rest when you have to.
Remember that self-care is basically working towards being at your best. This will in turn put you in the best shape to give your best while in the midst of family and friends.
7. Connect With Family.
Be open to connecting with family. At the end of the day, family is really important. Catch up with the people who have been away, sincerely ask about their welfare.
Sometimes, people build up a defense around themselves because they are not sure how they will be accepted by other family members.
Make yourself approachable and start up meaningful conversations. Own your conversations and lead it towards where you’re most comfortable talking about.
8. Participate In Only Activities You Feel Up To.
From group activities to individual ones, participate in only activities you know you will enjoy doing.
As much as possible, avoid activities that makes you vulnerable and susceptible to unnecessary jeering and teasing.
Related: Three Steps To Avoid Holiday Creep
Be sure to check out the three related posts. My blogger friends have written awesome tips on how to have a stress free holiday.
Share your thoughts
How do you manage holiday pressure?
I will love to read from you.