By Dr. Kathryne Buege
Welcome to December: Shopping, cooking, cleaning, decorating, parties, family and friends. It's the most wonderful time of the year, right?
Most of us will agree the holidays can present with a dizzying array of demands. Having just watched "Christmas Vacation" with my family, I thought I'd dedicate this next blog to all the multi-tasking, over-worked and under appreciated holiday helpers (and Clark Griswolds) out there.
Consider these top holiday stressors from a 2004 survey by the American Psychological Association (APA):
- Lack of money (61%)
- Pressures of gift-giving (42%)
- Lack of time (34%)
- Credit card debt (23%)
While this survey was conducted nine years ago and there have been economic changes since then, something else has changed: our expectations. Keeping that in mind, remember to do the best you can.
There are steps to take to help with the stress. Here are a few healthy reminders from your friends at MASH Urgent Care:
- Eat, drink and be merry - within reason: The holidays are meant for celebration, not overindulgence.
- Stress happens. Life happens. A self-centered, controlling relative … critical family members …. We've all been there! Try to view normal life events as, well -- "normal." This will enable your body to "come down" from stressful situations more quickly. Remember, you can't change people but you can change your response!
- Take time for yourself: Exercise, go for a long walk, read a book.
- Rein in the spending: Stick to a budget - don't try to buy happiness with a sleigh full of gifts.
- Acknowledge your feelings: If someone close to you died or you can't be with loved ones, realize that it's normal to feel sadness and grief. It's OK to take time to cry or express your feelings. You can't force yourself to be happy just because it's the holiday season.
- Be realistic: The holidays don't have to be perfect or just like last year. As families grow and change, traditions and rituals often change, as well. Choose a few to hold on to, and be open to creating new ones.
- Seek professional help if you need it! Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling persistently sad, anxious, irritable or unable to sleep. If these feelings last for a while, talk to your doctor or mental health professional. If you can minimize the stress that accompanies the holidays, you may even end up enjoying the holidays more than you thought you would.