Holiday stress: Keep calm and carry on
The schools have broken up and the summer holidays are well and truly here.
The irony is, holidays are often one of the most stressful times of the year for many of us.
Firstly there is a dizzying array of organisational tasks to think about; i.e. where will the pets go; do we need travel vaccinations; are there any travel strikes planned etc, etc. Or if you’re staying at home, how do you keep the kids entertained?
Often there are three main causes of holiday stress...
Spending more time together, without the usual distractions of work and routine, can expose underlying tensions which can lead to arguments.
Worrying about overspending on holiday, can lead to stressful thoughts and feelings preventing you from fully relaxing and enjoying your holiday.
Sometimes being on holiday can be physically and emotionally demanding; i.e. keeping the kids entertained; social gatherings; over-indulgence. All take their toll.
What can you do to manage holiday stress better?
1. Manage your expectations. Don't expect perfection; idealising your holiday can often lead to disappointment.
2. Plan ahead. Try to ensure that everyone in the family gets to do a little of what they really enjoy.
3. Take ‘time-out’. Try to spend some time apart, where you can indulgence yourself and have a ‘breather’ from the rest of the family/partner.
4. If there are tensions in your relationship, try and talk about those conflicts before you go on holiday. They may not be immediately solvable; but see if you can put grievances aside for the holiday, to be dealt with later. Also remember that whilst on holiday with so many personalities, interests and needs to satisfy, small arguments are bound to arise.
5. Plan your holiday budget and stick to it. Decide what you can afford to spend on food, gifts, and entertainment before you go, and work in a small contingency fund if necessary.
6. Learn to say ‘no’. If there are some activities you don’t want to do whilst on holiday, don’t say ‘yes’ and then feel resentful afterwards.
7. ‘Let it go’. Accept that things aren’t always going to go to plan. This will help to relieve the pressure of having a ‘perfect holiday’.
However despite all this doom and gloom, holidays are good for you! There is some scientific evidence that it helps to lower blood pressure; improves quality of sleep and libido; and improves emotional resilience.
So keep calm and carry on.
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About Lorraine Green
Lorraine is a therapist with practices based in London and Brighton. She has worked as a counsellor for several mental health charities and has experience of a wide range of emotional well-being issues.