Nothing ages you faster than stress.
Have you ever noticed that you look older after a long bout with problems, either at home or at work?
The word stress is so overused that it has become the definition for everything that doesn’t go right. When I was a young woman, I never saw an article or even heard a discussion about holiday-season stress. I realize that the culture has become infused with multitasking and that many of those tasks were done in the past by women not in the work force.
Many explanations are given for the emergence of holiday stress, and I’m sure many of you are quite familiar with them. However, I am confused as to why year after year we have to be presented with those reasons and how to handle them. It’s like talking about New England winters. They come, they go and they come again. If you still have yet to buy winter gear, you are someone who is living in an altered state.
Holiday stress is like a lot of other stress – much of it is self-imposed. Some situations don’t fit that criteria, such as the memories of lost loved ones, financial difficulties or illnesses.
We can find many reasons why we think we need to do certain things around this time of year. But if we really thought about it rationally, becoming nuts about it simply doesn’t ring true. I doubt if anyone on their deathbed spent their last few moments agonizing over a pie they forgot to make or a gift they didn’t like.
It’s unfortunate that so much of the holiday season has become consumer-driven. Not a day goes by without a report on retail sales and how they may or may not exceed last year’s results.
Are we supposed to feel guilty if we don’t beat the goals set by the myriad stores selling Christmas goodies? Will we be reported to the holiday police if we don’t buy someone the right gift? What if I decide to change the expectations and react in a different way so some of the stress is reduced? Essentially that’s what stress management is all about. Change how you think about something and magically the outcome changes.
So I suggest you give yourself the gift of serenity and inner peace by creating a realistic and joyful season. Do what you can and have enjoyment doing it. If you can’t do anything, exchange smiles, good will and a sense of humor.
One of my mother’s favorite quotes was “this to shall pass.” Everything does sooner or later, so have fun. Fun is one of the few things that’s free and it’s contagious.