Saturday, November 27, 2010

Managing Holiday Stress


It's that time of year when many people shift gears and the holidays take center stage. Often, the holiday season is not all comfort and joy. It can be a time of great emotional and physical stress. One of my favorite psychology links is The American Psychological Association - which is featuring a timely post on how to identify holiday stress and build resilience. Here are some excerpts:


Define holiday stress—How do you experience stress? Does that experience change during the holidays? Different people experience stress differently. How do you know when you are stressed?

Identify holiday stressors—What holiday events or situations trigger stressful feelings? Are they related to work, home, relationships or something else?

Recognize how you deal with stress—Determine if you are relying on unhealthy behaviors like smoking or eating to manage stress. Is this a behavior you rely on year-round, or is it specific to holiday stress?

Change one behavior at a time—Unhealthy behaviors develop over the course of time. Replacing unhealthy behaviors with healthy ones requires time. Start small and focus on changing one behavior.

Take care of yourself—Taking care of yourself during the holiday season helps to keep your mind and body primed to deal with stress. Pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Engage in holiday activities that you enjoy and find relaxing. Exercise regularly. Eat healthy. Make sure you get enough rest and sleep.

Ask for support—Accepting help from those who care about you and will listen to you strengthens your resilience and ability to manage stress. Use the holidays as a time to reconnect with friends and family and strengthen your support network. If you feel overwhelmed by stress, then consider seeking professional help. Psychologists are uniquely trained to understand the connection between the mind and body. They can offer strategies to help you manage stress, change unhealthy behaviors and address emotional issues.



14 comments:

Wanda's Wings said...

I have a terrible fear of Christmas this year. My first without Chris. I most likely made a mistake by having my knee surgery 3 weeks before Christmas. In my own way I trying to cope with the extreme loss. My daughter can't come down either so I am thinking this will be a very blue Christmas.

Dr. Deb said...

This is going to be a very tough time, I agree. Any way to cancel the surgery next week?

OHN said...

I worry about the holidays not being "perfect" for my kids (22,20,16). I have always desperately wanted them to have wonderful memories (which I think they do, as they recount past holidays happily) but I end up feeling so sad and I can't really figure out why.
This year my oldest will be spending time with his lovely girlfriend's family and while I am happy for him, I will feel there is a duck missing from my row.

I feel guilty if I have fun with only two kids around, almost as though I am neglecting the third.

I know that sounds ridiculous since they are all content with school/life/work etc. We all talk daily and are very close. I wish I could figure out why the days leading up to Christmas make me sad and secretly wish they were over.

I am not really looking for an answer, but thanks for the venue to vent :)

Ami said...

I think that even people who don't have issues find themselves not feeling... right this time of year.

And me? I do have issues.

yogurt said...

Downsize, downsize, downsize. Each of us lets the expectations grow bigger than any of us is capable of fulfilling.

Tracy said...

This is my absolute least favorite time of year and it really has nothing to do with expectations...just haven't identified the reason as of yet, but trying to make it about all the hype; but it's hard...

Von said...

Thanks Deb, good one.Any of you who are adoptees may like to see my post with a different take at http://eag-oncewasvon.blogspot.com
I'll post a link too for those who read my blog and will find it useful.

Lily said...

I just wrote a post on all of this... how the holidays have gone from the most fun part of the year, to the time of the year that sets me back the most. I dread it. Ugh.

Erin Merryn said...

Good information you provided. I feel blessed the holidays don't bother me. While on several holidays abuse happened it doesn't affect me in my current life. I look at each holiday as a new way to create new happy memories.

onelongjourney said...

Although I can get stressed by all the "stuff" - I generally like this time of year. I like a lot of the music, I love the tradition of decorating the house with the kids and hubby. I love the lazy day after opening gifts and playing a game with one of the kids or as a family.

Thanks for posting this though. What I don't like is the darkness at this time of year.

TK Kerouac said...

One of the saddest things is sitting in a mall, watching people scurry around spending money they don't have just to keep up
and everyone looks stressed and tired
You get roped into all the pressures
Its so commercial

I don't think Xmas was mean't to be this way

mrwriteon said...

Isn't it sad that something that should be joyous is so fraught with stress for so many people? Our solution has been to make it all as 'small' as possible, with few expectations.

Awake In Rochester said...

I had trouble with holiday stress. This year I'm broke ($) again so I'm not going to many parties. I'm sure that they don't care if I show up empty handed, but I do.

Nancy said...

Good post. Christmas music makes me happy and gets me singing, but it is out of necessity mostly. I want to be cheerful for the kids who love this time of year and are excited. I remember those feelings. Unfortunately, it's become a lot of work to decorate, plan things and get the shopping done, which takes more energy than I have. Not to mention taking everything down afterward. It should be simpler.