Holy Holiday Stress!
According to the American Psychological Association, “Even in nonholiday times, a recent Stress in America survey showed that 24 percent of adults report extreme stress and more than one-third of adults report that their stress increased over the past year. These adults who already feel extreme stress or increased stress may find the holiday season to be an added challenge.”
We all experience it at one time or another. Sometimes it hits us right away, when Halloween ends and Thanksgiving plans begin, and it is only a matter of time before the holiday plans being to be discussed. Other times, we get so consumed in our work or our schedules, our families or friends; maybe we are so over-stimulated by one holiday after another that we plan for each one as it comes, waiting for the current one to pass so we can focus on the next occasion coming up.
In a general sense, it’s supposed to be a happy time in the year. We get to look forward to dinners, family, friends, food, maybe a vacation, time off of work (hopefully!). So why are we so stressed out during one of the “happiest” times of the year?
For me, I start to get stressed when figuring out which gifts to get for whom. It sounds silly, and maybe I over-analyze a lot of things, but I really do stress out just thinking of who I have to pick out gifts for, and how early I’ll have to budget to be sure I have some money put aside. “What does Dad want for Christmas this year? What would he really love? A new shirt? No, he has shirts! Some socks? No, who would want socks for Christmas?!” That is the conversation I have with myself over every single person’s gift. It actually took me up until now to see that the stress I am creating is fixable. I should take my own advice every once in a while! (easier said than done!) The solution to my stress is to firstly remind myself, these are just gifts, and everyone is grateful for any gift recieved. My family and friends will love whatever I chose to give. Moreover, I know my mom would love a gift from the heart; something that I can make that she knows I spent a lot of time on. Not all gifts have to be purchased. I feel like many times we as a society are driven by commercials and consumer goods, but those can’t always speak from your heart or express your feelings for your loved ones. Pictures, memories, concert tickets, old journals or school textbooks – these items hold value not in cost necessarily (except for some textbooks, selling those on Amazon can make you some money!), but in love. I can remember when I was in highschool and I would put together a gift for my best friend’s birthday, I always thought simple. I grabbed a favorite picture of us, ripped a piece out of an old literature book where we had played 34 games of tic-tac-toe (yes during English class, don’t tell Mrs. Gifford!), and an old New Found Glory concert ticket, and I pasted them to a piece of card board that I decorated with markers and glitter. My best friend still has that on a wall in her room. We laugh at it all the time – mostly because it reminds us of the New Found Glory concert, which was our first concert ever and our moms had to come chaperone us. The point is that, I (and we) need to simplify ourselves in preparation of the holiday season. If you know that the holidays are a stressful time for you, know that ahead of time and be proactive. If it’s the planning of gifts (like me), then plan ahead and shop during cyber Monday! Or maybe just ask yourself to buy one gift per week and your responsibilities can still be handled at home and at work. Maybe you just need to simplify your thoughts and don’t try to get the perfect gift. The perfect gift is whatever gift you decide to give.
Some people feel the stress of trying to do 100 jobs at once. You are the parent, the wife or husband, the boss at work, the host of the family parties, the house cleaner, the present shopper – but you can be all of those and wear all of those hats without wearing all 100 hats at once. Imagine literally trying to wear 100 or even 10 hats, one of top of the other. Eventually after just a few, your tower of hats will quickly lean to one side and most likely fall over. Being aware of all of these reponsibilities ahead of time can allow you to be real with yourself. It’s unfair to give yourself unrealistic expectations. Can you realistically go food shopping at 4pm AND meet with your marketing team to discuss rebranding also at 4pm? Unless you have a twin or a cloning machine, that would be near impossible! Set yourself up for realistic and fair goals, dont put yourself in a situation to rush through things just to get everything done in one day. Work and life and responsibilities aren’t going anywhere. They will be there tomorrow ready for you to pick up where you left off.
I found this article by AMA to be extremely helpful, especially when preparing for the holidays. If you know you are going to be stressed out, take a look at this link for some helpful tools and tips. It’s important to stay happy and healthy, and it’s important to notice when you are not living a happy or healthy lifestyle. Know yourself, take care of yourself, and enjoy the holiday season! There’s a reason Andy Williams says “it’s the most wonderful time of the year…”