By the time this column is published, Christmas will be a few days away and I’ll bet that the majority of you will be doing your last-minute shopping. Of course at this late time, the traffic is horrendous, people lose their patience easily and the lines are extremely long at pretty much every store. It’s a shame because this time of year is supposed to be joyous and gratifying, but concurrently it can rapidly turn into a stressful and burdensome time.
Stress from the holidays can affect every aspect of your life, including making decisions you may regret — especially when you are lacking in the money department. Your willingness and intentions of purchasing gifts for your loved ones can quickly become an unpleasant experience and the stress from the mixed emotions may cause you to make irrational decisions. Examples include purchasing something on your credit card when you know you can’t pay it back for awhile, or going over budget, or even as severe as spending your savings. All this just to make everyone happy and to follow “proper” protocol for holiday gift giving.
Please don’t do this to yourself. Especially now in this down economy when most of us are in the same boat. We can all relate. According to Elizabeth Scott, in an article she wrote on managing the seemingly inevitable holiday season stress, she gives five non-monetary reasons for this situation.
1. Doing too much: Too many activities, even if they are fun activities, can culminate in too much holiday stress and leave us feeling frazzled rather than fulfilled.
2. Eating, drinking and spending too much: An over abundance of parties and gift-giving occasions lead many people to eat, drink, and be merry — often to excess. The temptation to overindulge can cause many people the lasting stress of dealing with consequences that can linger long after the season is over.
3. Too much togetherness: Even in the most close-knit families you can overdose on togetherness, making it hard for family members to maintain a healthy balance between bonding and alone time.
4. Not enough togetherness: Loneliness can be a huge problem. When the world seems to be gathering with family, those who rely more on friends for support can feel deserted and alone.
5. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): This is an often-unrecognized problem, which is a by-product of the seasons changing from fall to winter. As daylight diminishes and the weather causes us to stay indoors, many are affected.
So, as you can see, it is manageable to handle this holiday stress if you can remember some of these things. However, when the holidays are over and you are still just plain old stressed out, here are some tips to help with that stress reduction.
First, stay positive throughout the holidays. Next, be sure to keep yourself in shape and exercise when possible. Also, eat right and decrease your fat and sugar intake. Third, don’t drink too much coffee or caffeinated beverages. Get plenty of rest (at least eight hours a night) and try to meditate or do Yoga right before the big family gathering. A message from a special someone on Christmas morning would be nice, too. Finally, remember that you can’t control everything and that you can always ask the friends and family with you to help with certain problems that do arise.
And remember to be safe while traveling and shopping. There are many people who are out there drinking excessively, spending too much, being careless and still getting behind the wheel. Be aware of your surroundings and most of all take time for yourself. Although it may sound selfish, you come first because if you are not in good health or good sprits then the people around you will be affected. This is a time for joy and quality time with your friends and family. Use it to your advantage and treasure all of the happy moments.
Whitney is an on-air multimedia personality, and works behind the scenes helping businesses gain extra exposure, through her WIN Promotions video production services.