Holiday Stress Test

Do you find yourself increasingly dreading the holidays? Do you find the shopping amongst hoards of desperate shoppers, the selecting of just the right gifts, the cooking of wonderful holiday treats and many get-togethers of family and friends to be really less than joyful? How do you know if you are managing your extra work and the inevitable anxiety that comes with having more to do and more excitement or if you are suffering from so much holiday stress that you need to do something to handle your holiday time differently (or risk a true holiday melt down)!

Answer these few holiday stress questions to help you assess how stressed you are this holiday season:

  1. Do you feel exhausted a lot of the time such that holiday gatherings don’t even sound like much fun?
  2. Do you worry that your holiday plans will not be special or wonderful enough for your friends or family?
  3. Do you feel like all the holiday details are all up to you?
  4. Do you find it difficult to enjoy the spirit of the holiday season?
  5. Are you increasingly forgetful, discombobulated or resentful during the holiday season?
  6. Are you secretly wishing it would all be over soon so you can get back to normal?

If you are answering yes to two or more of these questions than you may be overstressed over the holidays and need to take some action to relieve how you are feeling.

Tips:

  • Shorten the list and delegate! You cannot do everything and to have an enjoyable holiday, everything does not have to get done. First decide the top several priorities, then start crossing off anything that is not an absolute must — baking more than one kind of cookie, having more than one holiday meal, going to every holiday party to which you are invited, getting the kids more than one thing. Next start delegating what is left. Generally women end up doing it all and think they can’t ask for help. Wrong. Give your partner a list of a few things he can do that will help: shop for two gifts, get out the decorations, do the grocery shopping.
  • Get realistic about family. Usually expectations for family reunions are too high which results in frustration and disappointment. Don’t try to have everybody be “happy” all the time and don’t plan loads of unstructured time where too much togetherness can lead to getting on each others nerves. If you do not have family to be with make plans early with friends so that you will not stress over being alone.
  • Be healthy. Exercise really helps with stress, as does eating and sleeping well. On the other hand drinking a lot of alcohol which many people do more of when they are stressed to “relax” will disrupt your sleep cycle and make you feel worse.
  • It is the thought that counts. Often perfectionism and competitiveness drives you to shop, shop, shop for gifts. This adds time, frustration and spending too much money which will stress you financially. Then when everyone doesn’t appreciate it all enough you will feel angry and disappointed. People want to know you thought of them and value them. That is the biggest gift of all so avoid going crazy with the presents.

Remember the true meaning of the holiday. Whether it is about time you cherish together, religious observance, reflection on your life and future goals. Think about the spirit of the holiday, talk to your kids about it, share that spirit with those you care about and let the trappings be optional. Take a few minutes each day to SIT and think about what the holiday means to you.

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