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Holiday Stress

The holidays can bring on stress like no other times of the year. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, or even Easter, can bring on overwhelming feelings of having too much to do and not enough time or energy to do them. Our feelings of obligation to other people and activities can cause us to feel anxious and irritable when we should be enjoying the company of others and the spirit of the occasion. Sources of stress can be family, friends, work, in-laws, lack of time, lack of resources, and lack of desire to participate in every activity that comes up.

During the holidays, people often have more visitors at home than usual. This makes us want to have our homes immaculate, which is stressful because we are putting unreasonable expectations upon ourselves. Honestly, no one will do the “white glove” test in your home. We cook and entertain for more people than usual and worry about how our dish will taste or if the silverware is spotless. There are potlucks at work and we need extra time to prepare for them. Many of us gain weight during the holidays and wonder how quickly the pounds came on and know that it will take extra work to get them off.

We sometimes feel as if we must bring a date to the many functions during the holidays. What if we are without a partner? For some people, that is just fine, but for others, feelings of loneliness and isolation can cause stress. It does not help when well-meaning relatives make it a point to ask why we aren’t married yet or when we are going to start a family.

Gift giving is often stressful. We feel pressured to buy presents for those that we are not very close to. We wonder if we’ve gone overboard, or been too cheap. We procrastinate and then worry because the gifts are not thoughtful enough. We attend dressy functions and have to be on time or get the kids to their functions on time. We may feel tempted to overspend during holidays, only to regret our splurges days later. Breaking our budgets is definitely a source of stress, which can cause family arguments, and the resulting debt is like a big weight hanging over our heads.

How can we deal with all of these feelings of stress? Take a deep breath and realize that you cannot do it all. No one is expecting you to do it all – we put these pressures on ourselves. It is okay to pass on a party. It is okay to give simple gifts, rather than running out to a high-end store in order to top or impress our co-workers. It is okay to explain to the kids that the economy is tight and that we have to take it easy on the budget this year. It is okay to say “no”. Deciding that you will not bury yourself in obligation before the holidays will help you to enjoy them instead of dread them.

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