Holiday Stress

There are various things that can bring on stress during the holidays.

It's easy to get stressed out during the holiday season, especially if you try doing too many things at once and expect all of them to turn out perfect. Stress, as most of us know now, can undermine your health by making you more susceptible to illness, and so it's important to know how to minimize stress or at least learn how to handle it better.

Things that can bring on Holiday Stress:

There are various things that can bring on stress during the holidays. Here are some of them -
  • Finances: You didn't bother to make a proper budget for the holidays and end up spending way more than you can afford and you know you are going to have to slog away for the next 6 months to repay all you spent on gifts, food, travel and entertainment.
  • Mental Exertion: You have too many and too complicated relationships, together with the whole circus of family misunderstandings and conflicts, or you have none. And you are psyching out about one or the other, because people said too much to you or nobody said anything.
  • Physical Exertion: You're spending your holidays running around shopping, visiting people, attending parties and programs. Too much exercise, too much food and too little rest or sleep are taking their toll on your body.

Tips for Countering Holiday Stress:
  • Relax. Sit down and calm yourself. Tune out the hustle-bustle and the crowds for a bit, take a few deep breaths and think about what really matter to you.
  • Plan ahead. Schedule all the things you want to do or get done. Shop for gifts or cooking ingredients way before the holiday season, so you don't have to cope with the holiday rush and you have everything you need already at hand.
  • Make a budget and stick to it. Don't spend beyond your budget no matter what the temptation or how much your children whinge. It's completely okay to say 'no' to your children, doesn't make you a bad parent, even if they are likely to tell you so. If you can, get creative and make gifts, instead of buying them. People will appreciate the time you spent on making them something special instead of getting something run-of-the-mill from the store; if they don't, probably they're not the sort you should be spending your money on anyway.
  • Go easy on yourself. You don't have to be perfect and you don't have to do everything yourself. Get your children and other family members to pitch in and help with decorating the house, preparing the meals, shopping and so on.
  • Don't try to fit yourself to other people's expectations.
  • Be realistic. Picture perfect holidays happen only in pictures. In real life, annoying stuff unfailingly crops up and things don't always go according to plan.
  • Don't take on more activities than you can handle. No, you don't have to attend every single show and every single party in town. Go for quality, not quantity.
  • Learn to let go. Traditions change, relatives move toofar away, children grow up. Things are not going to be as they used to.
  • Set differences aside. No family is perfect and there are always individuals that will rub you the wrong way. Don't try to change them. Change the way you react to them.
  • Seek support if needed. It doesn't have to be a certified therapist, your eighty year old wise and helpful neighbor will probably do better.
  • Acknowledge your feelings. If you're feeling sad, understand the reasons for it. Then get over it. I'm not one of those that recommend 'don't try to be happy if you don't feel like it' – I say try hard, very, very hard. If the Cowardly Lion could become brave by pretending to be brave, you too stand a chance.
  • Involve yourself in community activities. Helping others is a good way of helping yourself.
  • Eat healthy.
  • Get plenty of sleep. It's important to get at least eight hours of sound sleep.
  • Make realistic resolutions.
  • Treat yourself to a wonderful gift.
  • Listen to soothing music.
  • Go for a walk with a close friend or partner.
  • Try not to worry about things out of your control.

By Sonal Panse
Published: 3/31/2008

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