Managing expectations

Managing expectations

Everyone has a vision of the perfect holiday, but when reality fails to live up to the dream, stress can result. Here are some tips to help you manage your expectations this holiday season:

Set realistic expectations. No Christmas, Hanukkah Kwanzaa or other holiday celebration is perfect. View any missteps as opportunities to exercise your flexibility and resilience. A lopsided tree or a burned brisket won’t ruin your holiday — it will create a family memory. If your children’s wish list is outside your budget, talk to them about realistic expectations and remind them that the holidays aren't about expensive gifts.

Be proactive. If you are concerned about potentially difficult conversations at family gatherings, such as during the holidays, remember these events are about bringing people together, not driving them apart. Focus on good memories and what you and your family have in common. Plan activities that foster fun and laughter, such as playing a family game or looking through old photo albums.

Keep things in perspective. On the whole, the holiday season is short. It helps to maintain a broader context and a longer-term perspective. If something goes wrong, realize it’s not the end of the world. Remember the good things you have in your life and recognize that this situation will pass. There will be time after the holiday season to follow up or do more of things we’ve overlooked or did not have the time to do during the holidays.

Remember what’s important. Commercialism can overshadow the true sentiment of the holiday season. When your holiday expense list is fatter than your monthly budget, scale back. Remind yourself that family, friends and the relationships are what matter most.

Take time for yourself. You may feel pressured to be everything to everyone. Remember that you’re only one person and can only accomplish certain things. Sometimes self-care is the best thing you can do — others will benefit when you’re feeling less stressed. Reflect on aspects of your life that give you joy; go for a long walk; get a massage; or listen to your favorite music or read a new book. All of us need some time to recharge our batteries. Be mindful and focus on the present rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future.