Manage Your Holiday Stress (Part Two)
Eight professionals tell you how to get through the holiday season feeling merry and bright
As promised, Manage Your Holiday Stress Part 2
Tina B. Tessina, LMFT, PhD author of several books including How to Be a Couple and Still Be Free, The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again. Visit her site www.tinatessina.com
- Lighten up expectations by understanding that this is your real life, not a picture-book experience. People may squabble, food may not turn out perfect, and gifts may not go over as well as people hope. A sense of humor will help lighten up the whole thing. Think of yourself as a holiday trouble-shooter, rather than a designer of perfect scenarios.
- Ask for help by getting other people engaged in the happenings, and sharing the work. You’ll find that a lot of camaraderie comes out of working together, and a lot of the holiday fun will happen behind the scenes as you work with others to get ready.
- Understand what people are thinking by talking about events in advance with your spouse, your children, and other members of your family. Ask them what they like most, and least, and what they hope will happen. If you know the “hidden agendas” you’ll be less surprised when they show up.
Patricia A. Farrell, Ph.D. is a nationally known psychologist, author of Be Your Own Therapist and moderator of WebMD’s Anxiety/Panic Board. Visit her site www.drfarrell.net
- Know that it’s okay to say “NO.” Overextending yourself in the belief that you don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings may backfire and bring just the opposite result of what you were seeking. The trick is to say “no” in a way that is both kind and gracious. Preparation is the key, so formulate these “no statements” in advance. That way, you’ll be prepared, the person will get the message you truly need to give and it will avoid a lot of unpleasantness.
- Begin making small changes now so you can feel a lot more at ease during the holiday season. For instance, holidays mean gathering where you won’t know everyone and anyone who is shy will understand this can be a tortuous time. But you can learn to talk to people you don’t know. Practice talking to people in supermarkets, ask directions of toll collectors, at gas stations, anywhere you can meet a stranger that you’ll never meet again. This way, if you feel foolish, it’s done and you don’t have to worry. Rehearsal is the name of the game, so rehearse now.
- Learn relaxation breathing, probably one of the best things outside of anxiolytic medications. It’s simple, takes a few seconds (almost literally) and you can do it anywhere you are, anytime, and it’s not conspicuous
Barbara A. Kay, M.A., L.P.C., R.C.C. is an executive coach in Chicago. Visit her sitewww.advantagecoaching.com
- Make a list of your “to do” list based on the STRESS the item is causing you, NOT the time urgency. Sometimes we are better off completing items that are weighing on our mind which will give us a lot relief. If the item cannot be completed quickly, schedule a time to work through it. Then you know you have carved out time to deal with it and you can forget it for now.
- Make a list of your priorities based on your values, what is really important to you. Decide in advance what holiday activities match your core values and give them your attention. Then you can feel free to refuse anything that does not support your core values. You will not feel as much guilt, you will not feel overwhelmed by constant requests for your time, money, energy, and you will feel good about putting your efforts into the things that are most important.
- Of the key things that match your priorities, decide what about them is important. Focus on the core element and minimize your time on the extras. For example, if a core value is time together with family, you could minimize the food preparation and maximize the quality time together.
Suzanne Adele Schmidt, Ph.D.is a consultant and co-author, with Krista Kurth, Ph.D., of Running on Plenty at Work: Renewal Strategies for Individuals.
Holidays are one of the trickiest times of the year when it comes to stress. The song tells us that it’s “the most happiest time of the year”. But it’s not, if you are playing beat the clock and the clock is winning. Here are some tips to keep you safe and de-stressed during the holidays:
- Admit that time has boundaries and that you will not get everything that you would like to do done. That said, sit down and write a list of the most important things on your holiday to do list.
- Make another list of things you can stop doing. (Being a bit “domestically disabled” ourselves, we recommend deleting holiday baking and hiring someone who likes to bake to make your family’s holiday’s favorites.)
- Let go of the perfect holiday which for some people means letting go of traditional shopping venues. Instead opt for online shopping and phone ordering options.
- Schedule some relaxation time for yourself and take in the spirit of the season. Sit down with a cup of cinnamon herbal tea and listen to some Christmas carols.
- Lastly, take some time off. Refrain from working eight hours at the office and eight hours at home getting ready for the holidays. Use some of your vacation time in December.