Managing Stress Through the Holidays
The holidays can be fun, yet very stressful. For many, spending time with the family is a joyous occasion. However, for some it can be very stressful and conflicting.
There are many contributing factors to stress during the holidays. These include: financial stressors, choosing the right gift, familial stressors, increases in alcohol and drug use, being reminded of lost loved ones, overeating and weight gain, being single, overcrowded shopping spaces, and preparation of end of year taxes.
Holidays can be stressful due to these many contributing factors.
Money can be tight during the holidays. Parents buy their children gifts even when they cannot afford them so that their children don’t feel left out among friends. Then there’s buying gifts for co-workers, friends, and other family members. Some people even travel to be with family, which adds to the financial stress. As you can imagine, financial stressors can become overwhelming, especially when one does not have the means.
Tip #1: Create a budget ahead of time, and try to follow it!
Tip #2: Suggest to your co-workers to have a White Elephant gift exchange.
-Suggest items from home, so you don’t have to purchase anything (e.g. books, CDs, paintings, etc).
-Suggest a spending limit that is affordable.
Stress Behind Choosing A Gift
Some people worry that the person receiving their gift will not like it. Some may even fear being judged for their choice of gift.
Tip #1: If you are worried that they may not like the gift, get something returnable.
Tip #2: If you are worried about being judged, remember that a good friendship isn’t dependant upon gifts.
Stressful Times With The Family
Though it can be a great experience reconnecting with family members and close friends, sometimes we enter situations where we see people whom we prefer to avoid. The internal conflict we may experience as to how to handle the interaction may be very stressful.
Tip: Know what is helpful for you in those circumstances. For example, you can call the person you prefer to avoid and have a conversation prior to running into them at an event.
When holidays approach, we think of our loved ones that have passed and notice feelings of discomfort that they are no longer here.
Tip #1: Talk to someone you trust about your feelings.
Tip #2: Do some journal writing to process your feelings.
Alcohol and Drug Use
It is very common to drink during gatherings. When under stress, we tend to drink and use substances. There is a high correlation with drinking and aggressive behavior which can negatively impact your relationships resulting in further stress.
Tip: Limit your drinking during the holidays. You know your limit, so abide by it.
Holiday Meals and Overeating
Being invited to one holiday meal after another can contribute to weight gain resulting in more stress. And if it is not a holiday party, it can be eating unhealthy snacks at home for comfort instead of hunger.
Tip #1: Limiting your food intake per meal can decrease the likelihood of weight gain. Even avoiding the dessert may be helpful.
Tip #2: When at home, eat mindfully. Meaning, don’t eat with distractions such as television.
Single During the Holidays
When thinking about the holidays, we not only imagine going to gatherings with loved ones, but also with a significant other. As a single person, one may dwell on the thought of not having a date for the holidays, and anxious about how to respond when asked about their love life.
Tip #1: Have a prepared response that is respectful.
Tip #2: Remember that people are asking as a way of connecting and not as a means to judge.
Tip #3: The most important relationship is the one with yourself.
Crowded Shopping Areas
It can be overwhelming to be bumped into while walking and/or waiting in long lines.
Tip #1: Go shopping at a less busier time such as opening hours.
Tip #2: Do some deep breathing or distracting techniques (such as taking reading material with you) while waiting in line.
End of Year Tax Preparation
For business owners, preparing end of year taxes can be stressful.
Tip: Put aside an hour per weekday for data entry and organizing your tax preparation.
Author: Anita Avedian, MFT
Director of Anger Management 818