Stressing at the Holidays? Just Breathe!

It’s that time of year again – the holidays! The same time as last year, and the year before that, but somehow they just keep sneaking up on us, causing stress…STRESS! We all have it this time of year, but what can we do about it? Well…what stress do you have?

1. Family

Yes, even though it is the time of year to be with family, this is still a major stressor for many. Are you bringing together your family with your partner’s family and are worried they won’t mesh well?

Stop worrying about the “what if’s” of what might happen. If they get along, great! If not, there’s not much you can do. Reflect on why you’re bringing the families together. Most likely, it’s because you and your partner both want to spend time with those that you love and want to share this with each other. All you can do is provide a friendly smile; your family members can take care of their own happiness in combined family situations.

2. Work

Ah work – the common stressor throughout the year. But what about this holiday season that makes it even more stressful? This can be two-fold. Either you’re trying to finish off year-end projects, working long hours to complete it and missing out on get-togethers with friends and family or missing your kids’ Christmas recitals, and so on. OR you’re taking time off over the holidays and worried about what will be waiting at work when you return, leaving you preoccupied during your time off! That’s no fun!

Working Hard: assess what must be done right now and what can be done after the holidays. Most likely something can wait. If not, is there someone in your office who can help you or you can delegate tasks to in order to ease your load? Rely on those around you to help. It is the season of giving, no?

Holidays: Why are you focused on work while off? You can’t do anything about it anyways, so remove it from your mind and be there for the people you took time off to be with. Easier said than done, but worth it. Worry about your work when back in the office.

3. Too Much Spending

It is the most expensive time of year trying to meet all the “I Wants.” Your wallet asks you to simply STOP. You do not have to buy hundreds of expensive presents for your family and friends.

Set yourself a budget as to how much you can truly spend on gifts – even if it’s just a small one. Gifts do not have to be expensive to be thoughtful, plus there are many neat gifts that you can find for well under $20 these days. It’s better to live within your means and be calm rather than spend an exorbitant amount and become resentful to those you spent all your money on

4. Gifts for EVERYONE…and their dog

It may not be the money involved with buying gifts that’s stressing you, but all the people you feel that you have to buy for – friends, family members, co-workers, hosts of parties, your children’s teachers, the list can seem never-ending!

Some people thrive at buying the perfect gift for everyone on their list. Most, however, crumble. To stop from happening, why not suggest a simple gift exchange, both in your family and friend circles. Put your names in a hat and draw names of the ONE person you’re to shop for within that group. This will cut down on the number of gifts that you buy, and save you the stress from making sure you have everyone crossed off your list.

Alternatively, why not just have a Holiday Drink outing with friends or co-workers? After all, isn’t the season really supposed to be about spending time, with people you care about? Give the gift of each other.

As for your children’s teachers, well…a simple card saying “thank you” can be a much more meaningful than yet another apple shaped paper weight.

5. Keeping up with the Jones’

The Jones’ were able to buy all the newest gadgets this year. So what? Do you really need to buy the newest iPad or Playstation 4 to make sure that you have the newest doodads, to keep others impressed and wowed by you? If you cannot afford the newest, the best, the most innovative whatever, check your ego and don’t buy it. You may think your kids won’t love you if you don’t get them the most awesome knick-knack, but they will. Your love and thoughtfulness is what really matters – not the price of a gift.

The point of this article is to assess what is actually causing you stress. Can it be removed without ruining your life? Be honest….

Great – remove it! Now, identify what this season is actually about – usually along the lines of peace on earth or time with your family – and focus on that. I can guarantee that it’s not about fancy gadgets, being the perfect host / hostess, or even being the mediator between in-laws. Instead, just be there in the moment and enjoy being with those you care for. What better gift to others (and yourself) is that?

"The holidays stress people out so much. I suggest you keep it simple and try to have as much fun as you can."

— Giada De Laurentiis

© 2013-2014 R. Todd Millar. All rights reserved.

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