And Why it’s Important
- Marie Wetmore
Amidst the holiday shopping, hosting family events, and trying to keep up with end-of-the-year work expectations, you might be familiar with this real world grinch: holiday stress.
According to a study by Greenberg research, 38 percent of Americans experience increased stress during the holidays. Although anyone can feel stressed during the holidays, women feel stress most heavily. They tend to do more of the work related to the holidays like planning celebrations, preparing food, and doing holiday shopping.
No matter what the statistics show, the most important question is this: do you get stressed out during the holidays?
You’ll recognize the signs. You might have aches and pains, headaches, muscle tension, exhaustion, stomachaches, or a good old-fashioned case of the jitters. Since stress makes your immune system vulnerable, you may be more likely to get a sniffle.
And that’s not to mention your mental state: holiday stress can make you cranky and impatient. And it can affect your thinking – making your mind feel like it’s going a mile a minute.
In fact, the old saying “stress makes you stupid” holds some truth. Stress affects our cognitive functioning at many levels, so we may not perform as well at work and we can feel generally spacey.
But you do have a choice about holiday stress, especially if you start early and focus on prevention. Here are some tips that will help.
Get back in touch with what the holidays really mean to you.
Given all the pressures of the holidays, we often bend over backwards buying gifts and decorating our homes to perfection. But be careful of how it affects you. Both commercialism and money worries are top stressors during the holidays, so it’s important to step back from the material aspect of the holidays and reconnect with what really matters.
Visualize a holiday season that reflects your values. Would it be baking cookies with your kids? Sitting around the fire with your family? Taking a daily walk with your spouse? Singing your favorite carols?
Usually the most meaningful parts of the holidays are actually relaxing and often cost nothing. Make those your priorities.
Pre-plan an hour of uninterrupted “me time” every week.
The holiday season can be so busy that carving out an hour for yourself seems impossible. But if you plan it ahead of time, you can make it happen. Consider making it a weekly holiday routine, and explain your family why it’s so important to you. Their support could be an early holiday gift for you!
If you find it hard to stay consistent with your plan, schedule pampering appointments like a massage, yoga class, or manicure – and prepay. Knowing that you already put down the money can help you stay on track, not to mention the power of knowing that someone is waiting for you to show up.
Volunteer for the less fortunate.
Volunteering can help you step away from your own stress and enjoy the warm feeling of doing good. It can also shift your perspective and help you realize how lucky you really are.
Create a daily “savor the spirit” routine
Create any routine you want, but make sure you give yourself 10 minutes a day to slow down and enjoy the spirit of the holidays. Sip some eggnog, put up your feet, tell family stories, or listen to some holiday music. Whatever it is, make sure you take time to enjoy it.
What do you think? How do you unwind during the holidays?
Marie Wetmore, life coach for women