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How to ease the stress of the holidays

Holidays are supposed to be stress-free breaks to recharge our batteries but not everyone finds themselves unwinding into a state of relaxed bliss. Unstructured time away from the daily grind can expose weakness in partner and family relationships.

Some couples who have been experiencing problems throughout the year may actually dread going away together.

If your relationship is conducted by post-it note for most of the year and has stress points, spending two weeks together is bound to unmask them. Here are a few simple tips to help you avoid holiday stress:

Be Realistic

Holidays come with high expectations. Before you go away take time to talk about how you would like to relax and what you are hoping to get out of your holiday. Try to be realistic and concentrate on what is important to you. Much tension and arguments are caused by disappointment when couples have failed to discuss what they are expecting from the holiday.

Plan Ahead

Make a plan and list everything you need to do in the run up to your summer holiday and on the day you travel and work out what to do when. It is also worth creating a list of what you need to pack from sunglasses to sun-cream and buy essential products in advance to avoid a last minute rush to buy items.


If you both want to do different activities on holiday compromise is essential. You need to be honest about your hopes and dreams. Ask each other what you have enjoyed doing on past holidays and what you would like to achieve. You need to compromise and find out what both of you like to do. Once you have decided where you would like to go you need to look at your budget.

Money worries

As you will be relaxed on holiday this is a good time to see your problems from a fresh angle. Do set aside a bit of time to talk about money, or work worries – but you don’t want to be a misery guts. If you put a little time aside to solve problems most money issues can be sorted out.

Missing flights

If you’ve been waiting for your summer holiday like a raving lunatic you are likely to be on a short fuse when you do actually get off. Planning is very important. I get to the airport with plenty of spare time to avoid stress. Buying a coffee and reading a magazine, or making phone calls to family and friends passes the time quickly. Many high achieving, fast-moving type A personalities tend not to respond to stress very well and may feel explosive if they find a two hour queue at the airport or if their flight gets cancelled. Travelling with them is invariably stressful.

Family Overload – mums in law etc.

Leave crotchety relatives to do what they want to do and pleasure yourself, or you will come back more stressed than you set out – don’t let them stick to you like glue. People who always bicker when they are at home, also bicker when they are on holiday. If your son and daughter in law constantly bicker – this is how their relationship works and you need to make sure that you are somewhere else. Excuse yourself when your relatives start verbal fencing and go off and do your own thing. If they can’t resolve their problems on vacation when they are relaxed they should see a counsellor when they get home.

Here are some simple tips to avoid family overload: Announce your plans for the day early in the morning and go off and do your own thing, whether this is visiting a local art gallery, or aquarium, reading the paper at an outdoor café, or sailing, swimming, snorkling or simply sunbathing. Separate your days a bit. Lie on the beach, go for a walk, have a coffee, or glass of wine. It is a good idea to talk through the things you like to do with your other half and decide what each of you would like to do together and on your own.

Worries about Work

Many workers spend much of their time away worrying about the tsunami of emails awaiting them when they return to the office and don’t come back from their summer holiday feeling much more relaxed.  To avoid a mountain of unopened emails when you come back put aside 15-30 minutes a day to skim through your work emails and briefly answer anything important. Make sure your out of office is on.

Gladeana McMahon
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