Hope for the Holidays! Five Practical Tips to Manage Holiday Stress
MINA GRIGORYAN, PhD
It probably comes as no surprise to learn that women experience greater levels of stress in comparison to men during the holidays. The hustle and bustle of this time of year usually results in women acting as event planners, organizers, gift hunters, bakers, and entertainers (to name a few), on top of already hectic work and family responsibilities.
It can be too much, and mama, if you’re feeling stressed out, you are not alone. In a survey conducted by the American Psychological Association, 44% of women reported greater stress than men, and 69 % felt stressed out by a lack of time and money during the holiday season. It’s no wonder the survey also found that women find it hard to relax!
But, there is hope for the holidays! Here are a few practical tips you can implement starting, right now, to manage your stress, and actually, dare I say, relax!
1. Check-in with Yourself. What do you Feel and what do you Need?
Take a moment to check-in with yourself. Are you feeling anxious, excited, or both? By labeling feelings we can also access our needs. If were feeling stressed or anxious, it’s a sign that we need support, and need to implement more self-care. If angry, it may be a sign that our boundaries have not been honored or we are not honoring our own limitations. Getting in the practice of taking a daily inventory of your emotions and needs can really help you navigate the holidays by putting the focus back on you. This in itself is a self-care strategy!
If something is going on in your life that is particularly stressful, (e.g., new motherhood, a death in the family, a loss of a job), it’s important to recognize that you may need extra support during this time of year. Sometimes women will feel the pressure to spread the holiday cheer, and often will think that something is “wrong with them,” if they can’t fulfill this role. It’s important to recognize that this year in particular, you are in a season of receiving instead of giving. There will be many other holiday seasons, but there is only one you.
2. Ask for Help.
Once you’ve taken your emotional and needs inventory, get in the practice of asking for help. Who are the people in your life you can rely on to support you in ways you need? For instance, you don’t have to cook every dish, or take on all the responsibilities of home decor. Have others help you, and be very specific in the ways you ask for help, especially with your partners. Don’t’ assume they should know how to help you. Explain in detail.
3. Budget your Money.
Creating a financial budget can really curb overspending and manage impulses to buy when bombarded with so called holiday deals. Have a clear number in mind in terms of how much you want to spend on presents, food, and holiday gear, etc. This can really help manage financial anxiety.
Also, figure out if there are family or friend groups in your life that are okay with Secret Santa – why buy everyone a gift, if you can buy one, plus it’s fun! Or, if you’re unlike me, and creative, home-made gifts are thoughtful and just fine.
4. Budget your Time - It’s not about Quantity, but Quality.
We never really think about how we can mindfully budget our time. It’s okay to draw boundaries for ourselves and our kids, and not attend every event. Children are oftentimes over-scheduled also during this time of year, so saying NO to a couple events can really help you and your family enjoy some quality time with each other.
Don’t forget to include time for you, and if this seems impossible, it’s a sign that you are overstretched. You can make time for something relaxing, and enjoyable such as reading a good book, going to the spa, taking a bubble bath-whatever brings you peace and joy.
5. Imperfection is Trending!