It’s the most wonderful time of year – until it’s not…
We all just love the holidays, right…?
Well, it depends, actually. Here’s some holiday stress statistics for you: According to this article from Entrepreneur.com, over 60% of use report feeling increased stress during this time of year.
So if you’re wondering “why do I feel so stressed during the holidays” then this post is going to help you figure out the why, along with some tips for reducing stress during the holidays.
Why the holidays are so stressful, and how to cope.
Do you approach the holidays with a vision of Norman Rockwell? Don’t you think the holidays should be a time for happiness and thanksgiving? How come Christmas gets so stressful and overwhelming?
Below, are some things that can cause holiday stress, and how to manage them.
The purpose of Christmas has changed over time. Back in olden days, a child could expect a couple of pieces of candy in their stocking, along with maybe one toy that they had wished for. Nowadays, the focus is on over-consumption and material goods, instead of enjoying togetherness with family. Over the last few generations, people have forgotten the joys of spending time with family. Christmas is today is more about buy things for family rather than all of us enjoying each other’s company.
If you’re thinking of sending a thank-you card to your family and friends for all the gifts they gave you, you may be overwhelmed by the list of things to do, as well as the idea of spending money on them. Perhaps you should consider saying thanks with actions instead of words.
The thing is, we all know that money can’t buy happiness. However, we still try like heck to make the opposite true, because we know we’ll never get quality time back. One of the biggest reasons we try to overcompensate for lost quality time is that we know we can never get quality time back.
Technology is advancing faster than ever before, making it harder for people to focus on being 100% present and available to the people who matter most.
We often feel guilty for not giving our loved ones everything that they deserve during the holidays. To make up for this, we go on an un-ending search for the ultimate “buy now, pay later” Christmas presents for everyone in the family. But if we just lowered our expectations and did what we really want, it would really be giving each other quality time and mindful connection. When we do this, then we would really be getting the “things” that we want for Christmas.
December is a month-long celebration of good times, with each
party in the family after another. Alcohol flows, heavy meals are all around and the feeling of relaxation is replaced by the stressed-out cramming yourself full of
Christmas cookies just to get through the day.
It might be hard to believe that you can avoid over-eating, drinking too much, eating sweets, and being bombarded with the effects of sugar during the month of December. However, the key is in the planning.
When you go holiday shopping or take a trip with kids in tow, be sure to pack healthy snacks into your bag so that they (and you) don’t get hungry before you reach home. Some ideal snacks are trail mix with nuts and dried fruits, a family food bag with sliced apples and chunks of cheese, or maybe a couple of boxes of crackers.
It’s all in the family – surviving the holidays with your odd-ball family.
Wondering what Uncle Joe or Auntie Mary will do or say to embarrass you this year around the holiday table? Thinking that the combination of Tums and Tylenol you’ll be considering still won’t be enough to help you cope with the extra dish of sarcasm that your mother in law throws your way?
If you get stressed just thinking about sharing the holiday season with your dysfunctional family, you can take comfort in the fact that you’re not alone. The results of a recent survey by the Christian Post found that Twenty-four percent of individuals surveyed dreaded seeing relatives and 16% dreaded the idea of holiday parties and events.
So why do panic attacks ensue instead of peaceful bliss when we think of celebrating another year coming to a close with our relatives? Here’s an even better question, how do you avoid holiday stress? Below, some reasons and solutions to family holiday stress
1. Clashes of Personality
We all don’t share the same ideas about everything, and that’s certainly very apparent when the entire family gets together. Whether it’s arguing about how long to keep the turkey in the over, quibbling over what kind of stuffing is best, or jockeying for who gets to host and who gets to make the trip… not agreeing on how much to spend on presents, or navigating conversational minefields… there is no doubt that our different family personality types can and will come into conflict during the holiday season.
What to Do About It
One of the best ways to deal with these types of personality conflicts at family holiday get-togethers is to put each family member in charge of a specific task and then just let it go and let them handle it without any interference from your or anyone else in the family. If you thing that there’s going to be conversational sparks flying around the holiday table, then use strategic seating to provide as much separation as possible between those that represent the total opposites of each other. This can works wonders. Finally, sometimes it can get really stressful when a few different people really don’t know how to play nice at family gatherings. So in this case you might want to actually consider hosting different events for different sets of family members. The reduction of stress during the holidays may be well worth the added logistics
2. Money Matters
Financial impacts of the season ranks pretty high up there on the list of reasons why family members argue during the holiday season. Many of use may have very different ideas about what is a reasonable amount to spend, whether it’s on gifts or gatherings. Your Great Grandmother’s idea for having the whole family hop on a plane to Disney during Christmas vacation might just not be something your budget can manage this year (or any year for that matter).
What to Do About It
One big key to avoiding family disagreements over money is to start some very frank discussions with the objective of coming to an overall compromise. Here’s an example of this process.
1. Step one is to give enough lead time to allow each branch of the family tree enough time for budgeting and planning.
2. A sit-down discussion or group email conversation may be of help if you need to hash out details.
3. Ask questions like “How much do we all agree to spend on each child in the family” “Will adults be exchanging Christmas gifts, and what’s our budget for this?” can help put everyone in a cooperate frame of mind.
4. Brainstorm some fun workarounds to keeping the holiday gift budget low and minimizing Christmas shopping confusion. Some ideas to get started might be to include Secret Santa, Grab Bag, and the “Take Or Pass” Christmas Present Game
3. Family Members Who Drink Too Much
Family members who drink too much take family holiday celebrations to a new and exciting level of anxiety and stress. Of course, the biggest objection to this is the chance that someone might get behind the wheel while intoxicated. Outside of that, just being in the same room with a drunk person affects everyone in the family. All the possible aggressive behavior, mood swings, not to mention the unpredictable antics are bad enough. But what really is happening is that someone is going to have to take responsibility for someone who won’t be responsible for themselves or their children if they’re a parent. This can really result in bad memoires, and oveall distrust between the family.
What to Do About It
We all knoe that tipsiness happens at the holidays. So make a plan for it ahead of time. If someone has a few too many, but doesn’t plan to drive and really isn’t affecting anyone else’s enjoyment at the event (other than maybe laughing too loud), that’s forgivable. However, if you find that you may be in the process of enabling an alcoholic over the holidays or you beleiver things might get ugly during your gathering, it may be time for a family intervention. First, you should approach the loved one closest to the problematic person in question, such as a spouse, parent or live-in partner. If that doesn’t seem to be working, you do have permission to enforce the nuclear option, which is not include alcoholics at family gatherings. Of course, this would come with the understanding that they will be welcomed back into the fold after they learn to control themselves and – better yet – get a handle on their addiction.
How to stay calm and healthy during the holidays.
Are you fed up with the holidays always being associated with busy, busy, and more busy; filling your stocking with stress? Or do you believe that you’ll soon be cheating on your diet plan and giving up on all those healthy choices and habits that you’ve been working so hard on throughout this year?
The holiday season should be a time for meaningful gathers with family and friends; a time to reflect on and be grateful for what we have and those around us. And it shouldn’t be a recipe for excess or making unhealthy choices. Below you’ll find some tips on dealing with holiday stress along with some holiday-healthy options that will be great for your body, mind and soul.
1. Choose thoughtful, simple gifts
It may seem easier to just hit the mall on Black Friday, but the things you might buy at a retail store or online as Christmas gifts rarely deliver in the meaningfulness department. Instead, how about a set of pictures of special family memories, set in a collage type picture frame, a hand-knitted hat and mitten set, or even an maybe agreed-upon family getaway in lieu of a typical gift for Christmas, can really set the tone for a special and meaningful holiday. And better yet, taking all that “shop-’til-you-drop” stuff out of the picture is a great way to reduce holiday stress!
2. It’s OK to Just say No
Many people feel obligated to attend every event they are invited to during the holiday season. That, my friend is a recipe for holiday stress. You put on your crazy holiday sweater and head out every day to one event after another – sometimes even going out twice in one day. The amount of things you have to do and places you have to go is overwhelming. There are just too many demands on your time. The end result is you’re super tired, super stress, and you have no change to enjoy the season. So here is a great option for reducing stress during the holidays. Only plan to attend one event each week during the work week and only one event each day during the weekends for the entire month of December. Of course, you can make a few exceptions to this rule, especially if your job keeps you so busy that you don’t have for any holiday activities during the week. For example, if you’re doing volunteer work on Saturday morning and a holiday party that evening, then it could be two, and in that case it’s fine. But DO try to keep the number of events low. So please say “no” to certain obligations, and to avoid being two places at once during the holidays. You should only say “yes” to the things that really and truly matter, and “no” to everything else. Do this and you’ll find the holiday season much less stressful and more enjoyable!
3. Create a little stockpile of goodies and gifts
Another good way to avoid stress this holiday season is to keep some ready-to-go gifts and goodies on hand. That way, if you get an unexpected last-minute invite to a holiday party (or someone shows up uninvited to yours), you won’t be stuck or stressed out trying to find that extra gift. Think cheap but festive holiday tins, packaged cookies, chocolates and candy canes. Even something small like a holiday votive candle set would make a nice take-along last-minute gift.
4. Shop online
Shopping online is the best way to feel less stressed out during the holiday season. No store has the same array of great presents for you and your family as Amazon. Or if you prefer shopping for unique items that make you happy, head on over to Etsy.com. There you can find handmade and handmade-by-handcrafted holiday items for your friends and family that could be much more personal. A word of warning though. Make sure that you shop early, so that you give the online store enought time to get the gift ready and then ship it to you in time to make it under the tree. Especially if the item is personalized in some way.
5. Sing! Together!
Ever heard the phrase “sing at the top of your lungs”?Singing is exercise for the lungs, as you’re practicing breath control without even thinking about it – not unlike meditation (which is one of my favorite holiday stress relief tips by the way!). When we blend voices in harmony, we spread positive, feel-good vibes. And as you breathe in a big gulp of air before drawing out a long note, you’re taking a deep inhale of oxygen which heals and nourishes the entire body down to the cellular level. So put Christmas caroling and Christmas karaoke down on your list of must-do healthy activities this holiday season. Singing makes you feel great because it truly is great for you.
6. Have a “Healthy Holiday” event
It’s a pretty good bet that more friends than you realize may be wishing for more healthy choices and less fattening fare around the holiday table. A great way to make your feast healthier if you’re hosting this year is to let it be known that your gathering will be a “pot luck” of everyone’s favorite, healthy holiday dishes. Think fruits and veggies, healthy proteins, vegetarian selections, and baked goods made with higher quality ingredients like whole grain flour and less sugar. Relatives and friends will more than likely be grateful for your candor and happy to healthily accommodate.
7. Make some holiday handicrafts
Making things with our own hands helps us feel grounded and reduces feelings of stress and overwhelm. This holiday season, why not host a crafting party with your girlfriends, or with moms and kids? Christmas ornament painting, knit and crochet, needlepoint or woodworking can make an enjoyable and satisfying activity that puts everyone in a relaxed and joyfule mood. And what’s more… in the end, everyone will have a special, handmade gift to give.
8. Yoga your way to Peace and Joy
Yoga is a such a simple and enjoyable way to improve your health through stress-relieving exercise. If you usually do yoga alone, why not branch out and make it a group event this holiday season? Invite your friends or family over to your favorite yoga studio or make a spot for them at your own place. You and your friends or family can leave with a yoga high and a mission to spread peace, love and joy this holiday season.
While it’s a proven fact that Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years (or any other major holiday in that case) can be super stressful, there are definitely ways to desterss during the holidays. It does take some forthought and planning on your part (ok, a lot of forthought and planning!) but if you follow some of these tips for reducing stress during the holidays, you’ll be better able to focus on what this special time of year really means to you.
Here’s wishing you and your family a very peaceful and joy-filled holiday season!
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