The holidays are upon us again and although we all love this time of year, sometimes the pressure we put ourselves under to have the ‘perfect’ celebrations can cause so much stress and anxiety that we wonder if it’s all really worth it!
It’s no surprise that according to the American Psychological Association, women are most at risk from holiday stress. No matter how equal the sexes claim to be, it’s still the case that women tend to take charge of most of the organisation of holiday arrangements, whether it’s planning, buying and preparing food, decorating the home, buying the gifts or just organizing who goes where. Women also find it harder to relax once the holidays are here and often deal with the build-up of stress (and any family tensions that happen over the holiday periods) by over eating and other not so healthy coping mechanisms.
Although it’s true that most of us claim to look forward to the celebrations at this time of year, we can also get stressed out about them. Men and women both feel under pressure to make the holidays ‘perfect’ for their families, which can lead to arguments and stress. There’s pressure to attend work parties, see friends and not leave anyone out. Money worries add to the mix –celebrating isn’t always cheap – and people also admit that they can’t always switch off from the workplace when they are enjoying festivities, finding themselves stressing about tasks they’ve left behind.
Some of us are just working way too hard to enjoy the holidays – 31% of people admitted that they were stressed because they couldn’t get enough time off from the day job to properly enjoy themselves. So – with all this stress build up, you need an escape valve!
Don’t resort to comfort eating to relieve feelings of anxiety or stress. It feels good at the time and it’s so hard to resist with all the delicious food and invitations to parties that inevitably come up at this time of year, but you’ll just feel sick and bloated if you overdo the candy or delicious party food. Eat whatever you like but try not to eat when you’re feeling tense because being stressed actually affects your digestion and can lead to you feeling even worse. Take some time out for yourself if you feel the pressure of organizing (and paying for) everything start to creep up on you. Just because it’s Thanksgiving, or Christmas, it doesn’t mean you have to spend the whole time dealing with the needs of the rest of your family, friends or workplace. You can’t give anything if your own well is empty so treat yourself to a massage instead; not only will a good massage make you feel relaxed and ready to face another round of gift shopping, but it stimulates feel good hormones, boosts your circulation and can even help boost your immune system which is an absolute must if you’re going to be socializing with friends, family and workmates more than usual. Doing something that’s just for you will help improve your mood so that you won’t find it so irritating when people make holiday-related demands on you at this time of year. You’ll feel much more able to deal with fighting kids, annoying relatives and a partner who is too busy watching TV to help you with the washing up if you’ve had your fill of relaxing massage before the holiday season kicks off. It’s your gift to yourself – and as they say in the commercials – you’re worth it!