Dealing with stress is a very lucrative industry. There are many authorities, speakers, doctors therapists etc. that have put forward their strategies for dealing with stress especially around the holidays. I am adding my two cents to the discourse from the perspective of one who’s life has had stress as a recurrent theme and who is even now dealing with loads of stress and finding ways to deal with it productively.
Holidays and Stress
The holidays purport to be the most stressful time of year for some. Arguably more so for those of us who don’t have the large social circles or friends and family that the media and society proclaim to be “what holidays are all about”. My take on the whole holiday stress thing is, stress is stress, the issues that seem to have more relevance during the holidays don”t. They are the same issues that were there in the earlier part of the year etc. It is not the holidays themselves that cause the stress, it is the way we approach them that does. If you allow yourself to fall into the trap of conducting the perfect holiday festivities and having the perfect, hallmark card holiday gatherings, then you will ratchet up the level of stress that you feel. Define your own holiday. Proactively create the kind of environment that works for YOU. If that includes being a social butterfly or sitting home with a good book and a Venti Peppermint Mocha from Starbucks – you create your OWN experience. It is more rewarding and not so dependent on the actions of others which is usually not a good thing no matter what time of the year it is.
Socializing – Holidays and Beyond
The holidays are marked by the parties and gatherings that are assigned to them. Ostensibly times for family and friends – this very definition eliminates and ostracizes those who don’t partake as prescribed by doing all these things verbatim. There is no thought given to the concept that there might be reasons why people don’t choose to gather with family (might not have any) and friends. Society tends to look harshly on those who don’t have a binder full of contacts and friends with which to interact. Notice a theme ? What society says vs. what life has dealt? We all as individuals have our own experiences endemic to our lives and circumstances. While there may be trends identifying certain groups, it does not necessarily mean that if you do not fall into that group that there is a fault in the person or that they are lacking in some way. Falling prey to holiday guilt – feeling that you have to attend all the social functions and or interact and engage with family regardless to how you feel about it is a nice basket of stress topped with a bow. Look for ways to connect that are within your own comfort zone and do not allow yourself to be guilt-ed or pressured into doing anything you wouldn’t normally do because its the “holiday” season.
Holiday – Eating – The American Pastime
With more than one third of adults in the United States being obese, the holidays and eating can take on a whole new meaning. The food generally associated with the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years holidays in this country tends to be most unhelpful for those who are concerned about eating healthy or are struggling with their weight.The good thing about this is that there are so many resources available to identify healthy alternatives for most traditional holiday fare, all one needs is access to the internet or take a stroll to their local library to find out more about some of these.
Or you can visit some of these links for starters :
Searching for healthy recipes and healthy food will pull up loads of sites and resources. Armed with the information you can make better choices. If however, you wind up eating the cookies, the cake, the friend chicken, etc. enjoy it with the understanding its food and the consumption of it does not define who you are. Even putting on a few pounds is not the end of the world. Exercise is always available, a nice brisk walk can burn off some extra calories, and office grab bag gifts or envelopes might be nice places to drop a guest or visitors pass to a gym for someone who has always been lamenting about needing to go to the gym.
As far as holidays and relationships, the same rules apply any other time of the year. The only thing holidays might do is present more opportunities to get in or OUT of a relationship. Use your own best judgement, probably BEFORE the Eggnog
Most important of all – DO NOT Drink and Drive – and enjoy no matter how you choose to spend the holidays or the rest of the year.