There are those of us that love and relish the holidays and those of us that dread the pit of anxiety that builds and looms, each major festive season. No matter which camp you fall in, there are some ways to maximise your happiness and minimise your stress this Easter holiday weekend.
Adjust your expectations
Forget postcard families bonding over a perfect meal, a gathering or religious ceremony and remember in the real world, no family is perfect.
Striving for perfection brings up all sorts of issues from family, anxiety, sobriety to eating disorders. The idea of a traditional household is constantly being turned on its head. Try and accept your own family unit ‘warts and all’ and don’t put too much pressure on yourself to compare to how you perceive others.
Phone a friend
Aside from the breakdown of some family units, the reality of living in this pandemic continues to mean that you and your family unit may be separated by distance and you find yourself alone.
But remember, you’re never alone in being alone. Call a friend. Chances are you’ll find others in a similar situation and they’d be open to and appreciative of a shared meal or experience or may invite you to join their plans.
Get out and about
Every psychologist professes to 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. 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!
Begin a new tradition
If the thought of all the above does nothing to lower your anxiety, try coming up with a new tradition.
Plan a trip on your own or with family and friends, and make it an annual event. Costs can be kept down by making it a road trip, staying with friends at the destination or even doing a house swap with someone you know like you, who’d also love the chance to get away for a few days this time of year.
There are also last-minute deals at the moment offered by airlines and hotels that can take you to a destination within Australia you never even considered.
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 actually 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”.
Lastly, the great gift of giving is always needed, particularly during the holidays, but especially during these uncertain times. Getting involved in a charity or at a soup kitchen will enable you to give something back to the community and meet other volunteers who may even become friends.
Whatever your needs this Easter, just remember self-care. Be good to yourself and if you are feeling the stresses and strains and it is taking an emotional toll, it is important to share your feelings with a trusted person who can offer guidance and support during difficult times. If you’re stuck, contact Relationships Australia NSW on 1300 364 277 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.