Sunday, January 4, 2009

Take Control of Holiday Stress

The holidays will be here whether you like it or not. So, you either face it or skip it. Skipping the holidays entirely means going somewhere else where you will not be bothered by anything that will remind you of the festive season. And that will be quite a feat. For everywhere you go, there will always be something that will remind you that it's the holiday season, and you will only be hounded by your conscience for running away from it.

You don't have to go through such an emotional ordeal just to cope with the stress and anxiety that go with the holiday traditions: the gift-shopping list you still haven't bought, the gifts you have already bought but haven't had the time to wrap yet, the pile of party invitations here and there... and so on and so forth.

But for many, the number one source of holiday stress is none other than your very own family. Once you think about the family dinner, the obligations, and the burden of family traditions, it's more than enough to trigger the advent of holiday stress.

To prepare yourself in coping better this season, ask yourself just what it is in holidays that you dread about. By specifically identifying that vague sense of dread, you are setting yourself up in dealing with it directly. Here is a list of some of the things that can trigger a holiday stress:

  • Unhappy memories. Family reunions during the holiday season will naturally bring back old memories. Some of these memories may be more bitter than sweet. Some people associate the holidays with a bad time in their life, such as the loss of a loved one or a previous depression. Then, this time of year can bring those memories back.

  • Unwelcomed relatives. Finding yourself in the company of relatives you avoid the rest of the year can trigger anxiety. Those who struggle with depression may face the stigma of being labeled as lazy or too emotional. It can really be hurtful when people think that way.

  • Negative changes. Just like news, everything that’s changed in your life - specifically the changes that border in the negative, such as separation, financial losses - are usually the ones that become highlighted as topics of conversation. Any of these can really unsettle a gathering and add holiday stress.

  • Lack of energy. Since this is also the cold and flu season, you’re more likely to be stressed out by obligations and errands. You’re immune system is down, eating habit at its worst, and sleeping a lot less than you used to. By the time the family gathering rolls around, you’re all worn out, tense, and fragile.

While the holidays can make people feel seem out of control, it doesn't have to. Take some control over the holidays, instead of letting them control you. When yo do things not because you want to but you have to, think again. Do you really have to?

Make a list of reasons why you engage in these holiday traditions, and then a list of reasons why you shouldn’t. This list will remind you that you do have a choice. Try not to do things the same way just because that’s how you always do them. Focus on the holiday stresses that you can control. If the old holiday traditions aren’t working, if they’re not making you happy and causing holiday stress, it’s time to do it differently.

Resource Box : Monch Bravante is a freelance writer and an advertising practitioner with special interest in public health issues.

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