Whether you associate the Easter long weekend with enjoyable family time and Easter eggs, or high expectations and sugar crashes, you can learn to navigate this time with a little more ease.
There are those of us that relish the holidays, and those of us that dread the looming anxiety of each major festive season — including the Easter break.
Societal pressures and expectations to use this time well can leave us feeling stressed out or lonely, rather than rested and restored. But there are some ways to maximise your happiness and minimise your stress this Easter long weekend, no matter how you’re spending it.
Adjust your expectations of the ‘perfect family’
Forget postcard families bonding over a perfect meal, a gathering, or religious ceremony. Remember in the real world, no family is perfect, and all of us will experience complex issues within our families that we’ll need to navigate from time to time. Try and accept your own family unit ‘warts and all’, and don’t compare yourself to others.
You can also try spending less time on social media over the weekend if you find yourself buying into the myth that everyone is having a fantastic time, all the time.
Begin a new family tradition
Research has shown that establishing family rituals traditions can have huge benefits. Traditions give us an increased sense of identity and belonging, while inspiring positive feelings and creating memories that family members can share.
Traditions don’t have to be long-established to have benefits, and you can always create new ones. If you currently don’t have many Easter traditions, why not plan a trip and make it an annual event. You can keep costs down by making it a road trip, staying with friends at the destination, or even doing a house swap with someone you know, who’d also love the chance to get away for a few days this time of year.
There are also last-minute deals offered by airlines and hotels that can take you to a destination within Australia you never even considered.
If you’re staying home, consider a tradition like an Easter egg hunt or a family breakfast where everyone chips in with the preparations.
Don’t give into holiday pressures
It can be hard in adulthood to honestly express feelings around holidays that may offend the people we are closest to.
Give yourself permission to put your needs first and make it a stress-free time. Feel free to decline an invitation that makes you feel uncomfortable or that may end in conflict.
For others, the chores surrounding getting everything ready for an Easter lunch can add to stress, especially if it’s combined with full-time work. If you’re the one in charge of pulling everything together, make sure you speak to your loved ones and ask for more support, including delegating chores. Surprising as it may seem, most people like to be asked to help and feel involved. Allow for some mishaps and don’t put pressure on yourself to offer everyone ‘the perfect day’.
Phone a supportive friend
The reality of living in this pandemic continues to mean that you and your family unit may be separated by distance, or you find yourself alone for other reasons.
But remember, you’re never alone in being alone. If you’re feeling lonely at this time, call a supportive friend. Chances are you’ll find others in a similar situation and they’d be open to and appreciative of a shared meal. They may even invite you to join their plans.
Get out and about
Every psychologist acknowledges the benefit of exercise to boost your mood — all those endorphins waiting to be released in just thirty minutes, a couple of times a week.
Use your time off work to get some exercise. If that’s not for you, you can enrich yourself in other ways. See an exhibition that appeals to you but you never thought you’d get to, watch that series you’d heard great things about, or just go for a walk in an area with a nice view and an open coffee shop at the end.
Volunteer your time
Lastly, the great gift of giving is always needed — particularly during the holidays, but especially during these uncertain times. Getting involved with a local charity will enable you to give something back to the community and meet other volunteers who may even become friends. Check out organisations like Foodbank or OzHarvest, who help deliver food to those in need.
Whatever your needs this Easter, remember to practise self-care. Be good to yourself and if it’s taking an emotional toll, share your feelings with a trusted person who can offer guidance and support during difficult times.
If you need extra support, Relationships Australia NSW offers individual and family counselling services throughout NSW, and online.