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Mindful Living Everyday®

Stress LESS Holiday

November 28, 2017

This is the most stressful time of the year. A recent survey reveals that 69 percent of Americans would skip exchanging gifts if their family and friends agreed to it and about half of us dread the holidays this year. We just have too much to do.

Typical Holiday Stressors

  • Finances are a big stressor. Most of us overspend during the holidays and have to pay for it in January when our bills come due.
  • Family. Many of us are around family members we do not usually see or even like, and that creates stress.
  • Travel.  Most of us are traveling somewhere during the holidays and dread the crowds, logistics, and costs.
  • Weight gain. Many of us worry about our weight because we are off our normal foods and schedules.  The average person gains about 2-5 pounds during the holidays.
  • Depression.  Holidays create sadness, worry, anxiety, and depression.  Some experience sadness because of memories of loved ones who are no longer in our lives. Many of us in America live alone these days, and we can feel isolated by holidays.
  • Lack of sleep.  85% of Americans lose sleep during the holidays.

Holiday Stress Tips

  • Communication is first priority. Most disagreements, problems, and hurt comes from miscommunication. Practice deep listening, take a deep breath before responding and practice kindness and compassion.
  • Family Meeting. Have a family meeting and put every event on the calendar. Keep it in a public place so the everyone knows when the school events occur, shopping, sports and all other holiday events. This helps to have no excuses or arguments about forgetting plans that cause chaos and hurt feelings. Create a budget for the family with each family member for gifts, clothes they need, travel, and all costs so the entire family does not have surprises.
  • Spending. Be aware of ‘”emotional spending.” You may see a gift that you want to buy for someone special on your list in a moment of strong emotions. Be careful of these emotional expenditures because these unplanned gifts will show up later on your credit cards.  
  • Guests.  Communication is Critical! Hurt feelings, arguments, and long-lasting feuds can occur from a simple misunderstanding. As soon as possible begin a group email to be clear about who is going where, how many people to expect and what challenges some guests might have, such as dietary restrictions, (vegetarians, gluten, diabetics) or disabilities some may have.  Be clear with all guests what they should bring such as their favorite foods, pillows or games.
  • Travel. Make a packing list for each family member so you don’t forget things.   Each person should take their “comfort pack.”  Your child’s comfort pack may include a game, favorite toy, favorite technology, a book or blanket for comfort on the trip. Make sure you memorize one favorite stress practice such as deep breathing, positive affirmations or relaxation apps on your phone.
  • Diet.  Be careful not to consume too much caffeine, high-calorie foods or sugar.  These things can make you aggressive, short-tempered and not able to sleep.  Be aware of the amount of alcohol you drink because depression and arguments can easily be triggered by alcohol consumption.
  • Alone for the holidays. Experience “helper’s high.” If you are alone going to be alone this holiday volunteer somewhere, you love.  Volunteering with others changes the chemicals in your brain and makes you happy. You can also create a nonbiological family and have a fun holiday with neighbors, coworkers or new friends.
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