Are your “ho, ho, ho’s” turning into “no, no, no’s” this holiday season? You’re not alone. Holiday demands can seem overwhelming: worrying about money, shopping for presents, cooking food and entertaining guests are some of the main stressors.
But you don’t have to let these pressures get you down. You have the power to have a truly happy holiday – regardless of what’s going on in your life.
During stressful situations, our bodies believe we are in danger. The heart races, breathing quickens and our body gets a burst of energy. Stress is not always bad. Sometimes it can motivate you do to important things. But too much stress or stress that lasts too long can be harmful.
Some of the problems stress can cause are:
● Headaches and other body pains
● A weakened immune system, which leaves the body less able to fight off disease
● Depression, moodiness, anger or feelings of isolation
● Poor performance at work or school
You can manage stress with practice. These tools apply to most stressful situations (including the holidays); however, there are holiday-specific stress busters below this list:
1. Figure out what makes you stressed. By understanding what makes you stress out, you can create a plan to deal with that situation.
2. Understand how you react to stress. Stress affects everyone differently. Some people become depressed or sad, others feel angry and some hide their feelings. This holiday season, pay attention to the situations making you upset. The next time you feel that way, relax your mind or leave the situation.
3. Reduce and avoid stress when you can. For example, if it’s stressful to have over all of your relatives, then invite fewer people this year. If you secretly hate cooking the big Thanksgiving turkey, try pre-ordering a meal. If you hate busy shopping malls, then purchase online.
4. Accept what you cannot control. It is impossible to eliminate all problems. For things you cannot avoid, learn healthy ways to relieve stress. Try taking a relaxing bath, reading a book or spending more time with the people you love.
5. Don’t put yourself last. Many women – including myself – do this. Remember you’re important! Think of yourself like a bank. If you always make withdrawals and never make deposits, eventually your “bank” won’t have anything to give out. Replenish yourself regularly.
1. Buy only what you can afford. Paying for gifts with credit or borrowed money may seem like a good idea. But you’ll regret that decision when the bill comes. Set a budget and stick to it. Shop around for discounts and use coupons whenever you can. (P.S. Find online couples by googling “coupon” and the name of an item or a store where you shop.)
2. Find inexpensive and free holiday activities. There’s no need to cut out the fun this time of year – just keep it affordable. Search the internet for ideas. There are tons of free and inexpensive things to do in your area or at home.
3. Volunteer or donate. There’s something about giving to someone else in need that makes your life feel a little better. While you’re at it, get the kids involved. Give away gently used clothing or head to a food bank and help sort donated goods.
4. Shop when the mall isn’t full (unless you like large crowds, long lines and out-of-stock merchandise). Similarly, try not to wait until the last minute to buy gifts.
5. Ask for help. You don’t have to be Santa’s super elf – get some help. This is especially important during the holidays when there is a lot to do.
6. Think about what’s important. Decide what kind of holiday you really want. Make a list of what’s really important. Then go through the list and cross off all the material stuff. Focus on the things left on the list and be grateful for what you do have, no matter how little.