Stressed Out About the Holiday?
The holiday season often brings an unwelcomed guest—stress. Although the holidays are supposed to be a time of comfort and joy, many Americans report feeling stressed at some point during the merry season.
Why do you get stressed on Holiday?
The build up. You’ve over worked yourself—you haven’t been able to have a weekend away or time off for a whole year and you are tired, worn out, and in need of a break. Your holiday break from work means everything to you—rest, fun, relaxation and recovery. You therefore put a lot of emphasis on it being perfect that if anything goes even the slightest bit wrong, you get stressed.
Over extending yourself. With the holiday season we like to get involved in many activities and might take on too many tasks we are not able to handle by ourselves—you might agree to cook the main dish for a party you have later that night even though you still have to pick up your friend at the airport and watch your child’s performance at school. Your never ending to-do list can cause your stress to escalate very quickly.
Traveling . Many of our destinations during the holiday season are out of town. Therefore we are preparing and packing, possibly last minute, for a vacation. We may face delays and cancelations in our flight or get lost while on the road to the neighboring state. Our muscles may tense and we may experience insomnia while we wait to arrive. This worrying and lack of rest may intensify our stress and dampen our holiday spirit.
Shopping. Shopping for gifts is unavoidable during the holiday season. As soon as we walk through the store’s doors we may see an increase in our stress levels— the disorganization of the store, the crowds and the long lines to finally purchase our items. Not only do we stress about the experience of physically buying our items, but we also may worry about the accompanying bills and debt that may slowly pile up. Finding and managing your money is a burden we especially face this time of the year.
Health. During the holidays we tend to indulge. We are partaking in social gatherings that present us with more opportunities to eat and over eat. Even our interrupted routines cause us to not have enough time to have a proper meal and snack on unhealthy foods. With these poor eating habits, we may begin to experience weight gain and an exacerbation of our health conditions, causing us to stress over what to do about it.
When we begin to cope the wrong way…
Because the holiday season comes filled with stress of all varieties, many individuals may not know how to effectively cope with their stress. Consequently, they may turn to harmful habits, such as abusing drugs or alcohol, to manage their stress and escape their difficulties.
Self-medication with drugs or alcohol however, is only a temporary relief—it only masks the problem and doesn’t resolve it. Once the effects of the drugs wear off, the individual faces reality again and has to deal with the same stressors they tried to avoid. As a result, these individuals may then start to take these substances more and more which can lead to addiction. If this happens then the individual may find it difficult to stop. Addicts will continue facing stress, however now additionally as a result of their drug abusing habits. Addiction makes it difficult to be effective at work and it damages an individual’s ability to form meaningful relationships. People with an addition therefore can end up losing everything important to them including their possessions, friends, family, and their health.
How do I know someone is abusing drugs or alcohol?
There are many signs, both physical and behavioral, that indicate drug use. Each drug has its own unique signs, but there are some general indications that a person is using drugs:
- • Sudden change in behavior
- • Mood swings—irritable and grumpy and then suddenly happy and bright
- • Withdrawal from family members
- • Careless about personal grooming
- • Loss of interest in favorite activities
- • Change in sleeping pattern—up at night and sleeping during the day
- • Red or glassy eyes
- • Sniffly or runny nose
Ways to reduce holiday stress
- 1. Reach out. Acknowledge your feelings of stress and be proactive—reach out to family, friends or your religious organization for support before it becomes too overwhelming. Attempt to stay centered and calm. Make it a priority to spend time alone, without distractions, to clear your mind. Despite giving your best effort, if you still find yourself persistently anxious and unable to sleep or face routine chores, seek help from your doctor or a mental health professional.
- 2. Be realistic. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself to create the perfect holiday for your family and friends. As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well. Choose a few that are special to you, and be open to creating new ones. Make sure however, to only take on as many tasks as you can handle—delegate the others to friends or politely decline the request to do the task. When managing your holiday schedule, make sure you consider your work, family, spiritual and self-care commitments first before you start to choose other events to fit within your schedule.
- 3. Stick to a budget. Before going out shopping for the holidays, decide how much money you can afford to spend. Then stick to your budget. Try searching for alternatives such as donating to a charity in someone’s name, give homemade gifts or start a family gift exchange.
- 4. Don’t abandon healthy habits. Don’t forget your body and its needs during the holidays. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt. Make sure to have a healthy snack before holiday parts so that you don’t go overboard on sweets or alcoholic drinks. Incorporate regular physical activity into each day to avoid gaining any extra weight. Working out will also help reduce your stress levels and keep you energized throughout your festivities.