During this time of year, we tend to focus on the Joy of the Season and all the good times to be had. We eagerly anticipate the time that will be spent with loved ones and the hot meals to be consumed. However, we pay little attention to how stressful the holidays can be in light of all the good that is experienced.
Booking trips, making arrangements for visiting family members, spending time with in-laws, meeting new relatives, preparing meals, fulfilling wish lists, shopping in crowded malls, balancing checkbooks, paying bills, attending holiday functions and deciding what to bring to those functions are all stressful events. Let us also remember that for some, Christmas is a reminder of who is not present this season. Loved ones who are either deceased, hospitalized, or otherwise unable to participate in the season with family and friends – also including military. Life does not stop just because of the Holiday Season; therefore, some still have to work, fulfill organizational obligations, raise children, tend to partner or spouse’s needs, and whatever else life throws our way. All of these situations individually and collectively causes stress that can easily get out of control if not monitored.
This is not written to paint a gray cloud over the holidays. It is simply a reminder to be sure to take care of yourself during the holiday season. This may look different for different people. For some it may mean redefining how they approach Christmas shopping and budgeting accordingly. For others it may mean realizing that you cannot attend “EVERY” function and graciously declining some events. It may mean, catering instead of cooking! For a few it may mean implementing and reinforcing appropriate boundaries with the in-laws (this usually takes both partners to implement effectively). For one or two, it may look like taking time to yourself to just relax and focus on your needs. It could look like working out, buying yourself something nice (since we tend to focus on others this season), or just doing nothing at all.
Whatever the situation, be sure to take care of yourself this holiday season. Stress has a way of building up and taking over before we realize it. It is not surprising that people report experiencing heightened anger and frustration during the holiday season. Our patience significantly decreases and we become highly irritable. For some, this can also lead to some seasonal depression. So take care of yourself, balance your obligations and responsibilities so that you can remain jolly during the holiday season!