SAN DIEGO, December 3, 2013 — The holiday season is one of the most cherished annual traditions for many Americans.
It is a celebratory time of attending or planning parties, gatherings, feasts, religious ceremonies, and gift-exchanges to be shared with those nearest and dearest.
However, for some people, this season is a time when stress levels run particularly high due to increased obligations and expectations.
Oftentimes difficult decisions need to be made such as which event to attend, whose family to visit, or for whom to buy a present.
Budgeting personal time and financial resources can be especially challenging, and rife with emotionally fueled conflicts.
For those who are alone, or who have recently experienced loss, the holiday blues might easily override the holiday spirit.
According to the American Psychological Association, with statistics published by Aurora Health, “up to 69% of people are stressed by the feeling of having a lack of time, 69% are stressed by perceiving a lack of money, and 51% feel stressed out over the pressure to give or get gifts.”
Current economic trends and concerns about employment appear to be adding to the stress experienced during this holiday season.
Women are particularly prone to holiday stress largely due to their societal roles as planners, shoppers, nurturers, and caretakers on behalf of their families.
Health Hub from Cleveland Clinic points out the particular vulnerability women experience during the holidays due to their:
-Socialization. Being taught to nurture others, with difficulty saying “no.”
-Wearing many hats. Seventy-percent of married women with children under 18 work outside their home.
-Hormones. Premenstrual, post-partum, and menopausal hormone changes can make women particularly vulnerable.
There are a variety of signs experienced by both men and women which indicate that stress levels are increasing.
Stress-related symptoms such as irritability, insomnia, fatigue, over-eating, over-consumption of alcohol, are a few of the indicators.
Recognizing the signs of stress experienced both personally and by others, is a first-step towards gaining greater emotional awareness and balance.
The Mayo Clinic offers helpful suggestions for recovering balance in the midst of holiday stress:
-Acknowledge your feelings
-Reach out and share your feelings
-Set aside differences to reduce the potential for conflict
-Stick to a budget to reduce financial stress
-Learn to say no
-Don’t abandon healthy habits such as exercising and eating healthy
-Take a breather from the holiday activities
-Seek professional help if you need it
Focusing on the meaning of the holidays both as an individual and as a family may help to remember what is most valued in the holiday experience.
It also provides the opportunity to establish new priorities for the holidays, while helping to reduce the negative impacts of stress.
Breaking free from societal expectations, while holding onto the most beloved traditions from the past, will help to create new ways to enjoy and experience the holidays while maintaining personal, emotional, and financial balance.
A popular Christmas song, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” written in 1963 by Edward Pola and George Wyle, said it well:
It’s the most wonderful time of the year
There’ll be much mistletoeing
And hearts will be glowing
When loved ones are near
It’s the most wonderful time……
The Holidays are a most wonderful time every year. With careful thought and planning, there is every opportunity to share and experience the holidays in a meaningful and fulfilling way.
Until next time, enjoy the ride in good health!
Laurie Edwards-Tate, MS, is a health care provider of over 30 years. As a featured “Communities” columnist since 2011, LifeCycles with Laurie Edwards-Tate emphasizes healthy aging and maintaining independence, while delighting and informing its readers. Laurie is a recognized expert in home and community-based, long-term care services, and is also an educator.
In addition to writing for “Communities,” Laurie is the President and CEO of her firm, At Your Home Familycare, which serves persons of all ages who are disabled and infirm with a variety of non-medical, in-home care and concierge services.
Copyright © 2013 by At Your Home Familycare
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