NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


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Why Am I Stressed About the Holidays?

Why Am I Stressed About the Holidays?


          For many the holidays can bring a strange combination of excitement and dread.  When the holiday season become a stress season?  And why?  By the end of December are you so frazzled it is difficult to enjoy you own company?        

          If you find yourself more stressed than you'd like to be during the holiday season, you're not alone. According to a recent online poll, around 80% of the respondents felt the same way.

          There are ways to enjoy the holidays to the fullest without maxing out your energy, schedule and/or credit cards. Here are some tips that can provide relief from holiday stress.

          Make a Plan - Your first line of defense from holiday stress is to think about what it is about the season that has felt so stressful in the past. Do you always have a conflict with your spouse about whose family to see, or a conflict with the family once you all get together?  Do you end up spending too much ? If you can make specific plans to better handle these situations, you'll be less stressed when you face them.

          Simplify – If you believe the magazine covers, every party, every holiday recipe, every photo must be picture perfect. Most of the activities we associate with this time of year are fun. However, it's easy to go overboard and lose the fun in the process. Look for ways to cut corners or otherwise simplify the experience without sacrificing what makes these activities fun. Trying a simplified version frees up your energy so you can do more, or enjoy more of what you're doing.

          Remember those gone - We all experience sadness at the holidays as we remember those who are not with us. If we try to avoid the sadness we often make poor choices that include over scheduling ourselves, spending too much money or indulging in too much food and/or drink. Taking time to remember those special to us is a normal part of the grieving process.

          Find Healthy Foods - During the holidays, we may want to look and feel great but there is so much temptation in the form of delicious food and decadent desserts, and a break from our regular routines--plus the addition of emotional stress--can all add up to overeating, emotional eating, and other forms of unhealthy eating. This year, plan ahead by being aware of your triggers, do what you can to have some healthy food at hand for each meal, be aware of your intake, and practice mindful eating.

          How Much Time Together - The holidays are a time when extended families tend to gather. While this can be a wonderful thing, even the most close-knit families can overdose on togetherness, making it hard for family members to maintain a healthy balance between bonding and alone time. Think back to previous years and try to pinpoint how much togetherness you and your family can take before feeling negative stress. Can you limit the number of parties you attend or throw, or the time you spend at each? Can you limit your time with family to a smaller timeframe that will still feel special and joyous?

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