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Holiday Stress and How to Cope

For most households, the turkey has been carved and served, and it’s time to plan for the next holiday. Be it planning for a party, searching for that perfect gift or prepping for the next family meal, the holidays tend to put pressure on a person. The stress we feel during this time of year can stem from a couple of different places.  One example is when we try to meet or exceed our own or others’ expectations. Those expectations can be created from what we see on TV and social media, from warm memories of a previous holiday, or from our faith community. A poll by the American Psychological Association has shown that during the holiday season, 69% of people are stressed by lack of time and money.  The other 51% are stressed from the pressure of giving and getting gifts.  For a time that is supposed to be “Merry”, there is a lot of stress associated with it.

The Dangers of Stress

Stress symptoms may be affecting your health, even though you might not realize it. You may think illness is to blame for that nagging headache, or that neck and back pain you just can’t rid yourself of. But stress may actually be the culprit.  Stress can negatively affect your spine, it causes the muscles in the back and neck to tense, which can cause the vertebrae in the spine to shift.  This shift can potentially cause subluxation or nerve interference.  The symptoms are those of common illnesses, such as a stuffed up or runny nose, or difficulties with digestion.

Stress symptoms can affect your body, your thoughts and feelings, and your behavior. Being able to recognize common stress symptoms can give you a jump on managing them. Stress that’s left unchecked can contribute to many health problems, such as high cortisol levels leading to weight gain, sleep interference, metabolic disorders, gastrointestinal distress, heart disease, and many more.  With the average person having a modest amount of stress on any other day of the year, try not to add to it this holiday season.

Using Technology to Create A Stress Free Holiday

 

 Most people these days use Facebook, take advantage of the “Events” option on Facebook.  You can easily create your holiday event and invite those who are on Facebook, this will limit the time needed to reach out to everyone individually.  Using a Facebook Event, you will be able to see all who has accepted your invitation and not frantically scrounging around looking for the random names you have wrote down throughout the house trying to get an accurate head count.

 A second option using Facebook, is the fan page or create a group.  This allows the invited guest to post onto the page regarding their attendance, what they will be bringing, or if they will bring a guest with them.  With creating a page, you are able to post image or document with the menu items and a list of what is needed for the event or other areas you need assistance with.

Using your smartphone or other forms of technology, create a shopping list.  51% of people are stressed from giving and getting gifts, ease your stress by first creating your budget.  Figure out what you can afford and what you want to spend this holiday season and stick with it.  Then find an app that you like the best and create your shopping list.  There are many apps out there such as: Santa’s Bag, Gift List, Gift Plan, and more found at iTunes.  Available for Androids are Gift List Manager, Christmas Gift List, and more.  Check out which one is best for you and start your holiday season off with as little stress as possible.

How Technology Can Create Stress During the Holiday

 Technology can be very useful during your holiday season, but don’t let it become a stress factor.   Overstimulation can become stressful; time spent in front of Facebook or on your phone is time that can be more productive elsewhere.  Having your smart phone at all times can become stressful when you are making yourself available to be contacted at all times of the day and night.  Set time limits on your phone, it may be hard, but stress is harder.  Try to pick a specific time when you turn your phone off for the evening and focus on the more valuable aspects of life.  If you find yourself constantly scrolling on Facebook, maybe just send your holiday greetings and see you next years instead.  If social media is adding stress, take a break from it. It will be there when you get back.

Family Time

The shadow side of this period of light and hope, is darkness and despair. Many people fall into darkness at this time of year.  Adam Anderson, Ph. D., associate professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, has hypothesized, the effect media has taken on those during the holiday season.  With the joy and cheer flaunted throughout the commercials and shows, this can trigger those who are lonely throughout the season.  A Canadian study of patients that had received emergency psychiatric care during the holidays, found that the most common stressor was the feeling of being alone or not having family.   The feeling of melancholy during this time is not uncommon.  Below are a few causes of holiday depression.

Family-Related Issues: Some people rarely see their families outside of the holidays, which may make this particular season a little more difficult to deal with than others. Spending time with parents, siblings and other relatives can cause tension in some families, and the anxiety of these get-togethers can also be a trigger for depression.

Loneliness: While some are experiencing family issues, other people have trouble during the holidays for the opposite reason. Not being able to spend time with loved ones due to financial constraints, distance, or other reasons can cause severe loneliness during the holidays. Also, those who have family members or friends who have passed away may miss them even more during special times like the holidays.

Unrealistic Expectations: Some people get overly excited about the holidays, but when the reality of the events set in, they may find themselves disappointed with the actual outcome. Whether it’s holiday parties not being as much fun as hoped for, loved ones not getting as excited about their gifts as you’d hoped or other bad experiences, the sadness of a holiday season sometimes doesn’t match up with an individual’s idea of what a picture-perfect holiday season should be like.

How To Use Meditation as an Outlet

holiday meditationThink of a pressure cooker when thinking about stress.  Your feelings are building up with the pressure of the holiday and you need to release steam before the whole thing blows up.  The best step to de-stressing is to recognize when you need to take a breather and step away for a moment.

 Try stepping away for 5 minutes, make a list of three things you’re grateful for and focus your energy on those three things and why they are important, how they came to be in your life and what makes them so special to you.  Researchers have found that gratitude has both physical and mental health benefits.
 Use these helpful tips to make this holiday season stress free and enjoy what the holidays are about.  This is the time to be joyous and merry!