How Do You Manage Holiday Season Stress?
Glittering decorations, parties, gift-giving, and celebrations with family and friends mark the period between Thanksgiving and the New Year. This whirlwind of festive activities is “supposed” to be joyous. Yet 80% of people report feeling so stressed out they might as well be asking their boss for a raise. While there are multiple reasons for holiday stress, including performers’ endless Nutcrackers, you don’t need to repeat behaviors that tie you in knots every year. Find out the causes and remedies for too much stress and enjoy this annual holiday season.
Too Many Activities
Feeling obligated to shop, send out cards, prepare home-cooked meals, and travel to relatives can overwhelm most people. This is when it pays to take shortcuts, either by cutting back on your list of activities or at least simplifying them. For example, you could send cards only to those with whom you maintain regular contact or mail a card to everyone who sends one to you but keep it simple. Dinners can be a shared event, where guests contribute a favorite dish. Of course, if you enjoy preparing the whole shabang, you can still give yourself some leeway by getting store-bought baked goods rather than doing pies and cakes from scratch. Last but not least, consider limiting the amount of travel time to visit family. A more manageable approach might be to do it every other year or, in some cases, forgo it entirely if it involves a difficult relative who is already surrounded by family members. If you’re unsure about which activities need fine-tuning, make a list of your top priorities.
Indulging to Excess
Whether it’s food, drink, or spending, you are surrounded by constant temptations. Yet excess in any of these areas can lead to lasting stress if the negative consequences outweigh momentary pleasures. To avoid weight gain that may stay around till spring, stick to simple strategies such as picking your top three food choices at a buffet vs. loading up you plate. Likewise, it will be easier to drink in moderation by having a glass of water before each alcoholic beverage. An extra bonus is that, by not becoming inebriated, you will be less likely to do something you regret, such as getting a DUI or seeing embarrassing photos of yourself posted by your friends on Facebook. As for giving gifts, remember it’s the thought that counts. Purchasing gift cards at someone’s favorite store or for a special treat, such as a massage, can be just as meaningful without putting a major dent in your back account.
Expectations for Togetherness
It helps to be aware of how much time you can spend with family and friends before it becomes stressful. This is especially important if you are performing in a holiday show. Reflecting back on previous years can serve as a guide. Sometimes, it’s a simple matter of setting aside some quality time for yourself during the day. Other times, it’s useful to limit the number of parties you attend or throw, or the time that you spend at each. For those of you who will be alone during the holidays, inviting friends over or volunteering to help those who are less fortunate can be fulfilling and put the focus on what you have instead of what you lack.
The good news is that, unlike other stress in life, we can predict what bothers us during this season. Make a plan to reduce it and enjoy the festivities. Ho, ho, ho!