The Psych Central Report
Reducing Holiday Stress:
One Woman's Story
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(Please note: Although the word Christmas is used here, the author includes all the various holidays and spiritual faiths/customs here that occur near the end of the year.)
Its in the commercial; theyre playing it in retail stores, which also have numerous decorations and signs. The music and the surroundings are constant reminders that Christmas is approaching - fast.
Its amazing how quickly the year has gone by. Im not ready for Christmas. Nope - definitely not. I try hard not to think about it. I ignore all the signs, music, and decorations from stores. I change the channel when a Christmas commercial comes on, and I try not to look at the month on the calendar. I even go so far as to believe that all those decorations that people have around their house have been there all year round and they are just too lazy to put them away.
Alas, a little voice inside my head tells me that eventually, Ill have to pull my head out of the sand and face reality. Christmas is coming; Christmas is HERE!
Although it comes only once a year, the stress this holiday can put on people is incredible, and not just financially, although that is a big stress on its own. Im talking about the stress of buying presents, decorating the house, party planning, the fights to get parking spots at malls, etc.
Since Ill have to do it sooner or later, Id rather do it sooner, and get it over with, so I take some time on the weekend, and, with a mug of hot chocolate with marshmallows, sit down to think and take notes.
First things first presents and I smile. Starting from Boxing Day (December 26, which is a holiday in some countries like Canada and UK,), there are a lot of huge sales, and I would buy some presents, for birthdays and Christmas. All through the year I would buy presents when theyre on sale. This way, I wont have to run around looking for those perfect gifts and giving the cashier the numbers to my bank account.
Instead of looking for just the right size boxes and wrapping paper, I would go to dollar stores and buy gift bags and tissue paper. Those stores do have some very nice stuff. Okay, call me cheap, but my bank account IS something to sneeze at. The way I see it is, you dont have to lose an arm and a leg to get nice quality wrapping stuff.
After presents come parties. Besides being cheap, Im also lazy. I am picky with which parties to go to family and what few close friends I have, and, of course, the companys party. If each of my close friends is having a party, Ill feel overwhelmed, so I will choose to attend the one or two friends parties where Ill see all my other friends. Ill decline other invitations, saying I cant make it, and say Ill see them at so-and-sos party.
To me, going to one friends party and not the others is not rude. Its called taking care of myself, and keeping my sanity intact. Ill also consider alternating. If I go to one friends party one year, Ill go to a different friends party the next. I try to space out the parties, so that I can have a breather in between.
If I am going to have a party at my place, I will prepare some food the day before the party; have some take-outs, and lots of appetizers. The appetizers will keep the guests from going hungry, and the take-outs will save me from doing a lot of cooking, and blowing the fuse while doing just that.
Along with parties are people. If there's anyone who gets under my skin, Ill try to avoid him or her, or if I cant, Ill just keep repeating to myself, Its Christmas, be nice, or This comes only once a year that is one day out of 365 days (366 if its a Leap Year).
Next thing on the list is decorations. Tree yes I do have a decent one. Lights yep, theyre fairly new, so theyll work. Ornaments oh yeah boxes and boxes. So what if theyve been around 20 years. Theyre still in good shape.
I like simplicity, so the tree is the main thing. Ill just put out a few Christmas waterglobes and other decorations around the house just a couple of things in the rooms where guests might go to. Ill also have Christmas songs playing to make it more festive.
All this thinking gives me a headache, and makes me a bit stressed out. I look out the window uh oh snow. The child in me takes over, and I go outside to make angels in the snow. Theres not enough to make a snowman.
When Im done rolling around in the snow, I come back inside and have another mug of hot chocolate with marshmallows.
I look at my notes and wonder if I should think some more. I decide that my brain has had it, and I've got enough notes. I figure that if I look at my notes every so often, as a reminder, and if I start early enough, which I think is a great stress reducer, Ill be just fine. Ill survive this crazy, hectic holiday season. Advance planning, thats the trick.
As I put my notes away, something very important pops into my head. I add one more thing in big letters give myself a present. Now I can stick my head back into the sand.Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 2 Dec 2005
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