'Tis the Season...To Be Stressed Out?
According to Morton C. Orman, M.D., author of the bestselling The 14-Day Stress Cure, the top causes of holiday stress are:
- Social and personal expectations
- Too many responsibilities
- Trying to change or control people
- Unpleasant memories
- Unpleasant emotions and other body reactions
- Blaming yourself or others when things go wrong
- Failing to anticipate likely problems and delays
- Using food, drugs, or alcohol to cope with stress
- Expecting things to go well
- Expecting others to behave as you prefer
- Being single, divorced, widowed or separated
- Financial stress
Here are some suggestions on how to defuse your holiday stress and give you the chance to have your best holiday season ever (no pressure, though).
1) Be realistic: Put the holiday in perspective and avoid trying to please everyone. We all have different interests and it is impossible to please everyone.
2) Visualize: Think about how you might handle unpleasant family interactions more positively. Instead of focusing on the negatives, think about what action steps you can take to help you handle uncomfortable situations.
3) Exercise: Keep up a regular routine of exercise or start one if you don t already exercise. Depending on if you are intrinsically or extrinsically motivated, you may or may not want to work with friend or family member to hep with accountability.
4) Use moderation: Don't go overboard on holiday spending and entertaining. Overspending during the holidays can lead to added post holiday stress. People who have suffered great loss (like a house fire) already understand this, but just remember that it's just stuff - you can't take it with you!
5) Have a sense of humor: Avoid taking the small things seriously. When in doubt, laugh!
6) Help others: Take time to do something for someone else. It really is true - giving is better than getting.
7) Take time for yourself: Find time in your schedule to slow down and enjoy family and friends, and yourself. Plan time to rejuvenate and add it to your calendar if you need to; if you're relaxed it will be easier to handle the hectic schedules come this time of year.
8) Cut back on presents. Presents cost money and shopping takes time. Give presence instead!
9) Do less, not more. It may seem sacrilegious to actually relax and enjoy the holidays, but it can make the whole month a lot more fun. And the best way to relax is to cut back on activities. It's okay to say no! Everyone around you will be hosting/inviting you to holiday parties and it's okay to say, 'no thank you, but I would love to get together in a few weeks'.
10) Be flexible. Tradition doesn’t have to mean rigidity. Sometimes tradition is how we enjoy and celebrate, but it can also be something that, if not executed perfectly causes strife among individuals. Make sure your traditions are not adding to the crazy, but instead helping you to enjoy this joyful time of year.
11) Look for creative solutions to problems.
12) Ease family tensions by breaking up the old patterns and creating new ones.
13) Have your major holiday meal catered. If this time of year is just about being together, make it easier for everyone to enjoy being there!
14) Don’t make eating and drinking the focus of get-togethers. Go caroling or hiking instead, or volunteer to serve food at a homeless shelter. Again, give presence not just presents!
15) Put a dollar limit on gift-giving.
17) Shop early to avoid the holiday crowds. If you are wanting to give material items, don't wait until the last minute! It usually just adds unwanted stress.
18) Shop online for out-of-town relatives and friends to avoid the long post-office lines. Send gifts straight from your computer to their doorstep by shipping directly to their homes. Easier on everyone!