Managing Holiday Stress

Management Development Plus (MDP) assists health, education and human service organizations enhance their services in cost effective ways that improve employee productivity and consumer satisfaction.

Whether things are going well for us or not, the holidays are usually stressful times. The media, through its advertisements, presents us with ideas for gifts, many of which may be too expensive or too extravagant.. Children, seeing all the available toys often expect their parents to oblige them with their choice of gifts oblivious to the cost. Teens compete with one another for the latest fad; the pressure to "belong" can lead to wanting expensive designer clothes and popular electronic goods. Those individuals who provide ongoing services to us, whether it is the landlord, hair stylist, or newspaper delivery boy, expect us to reciprocate with tips. Credit cards and incentives like the "same as cash, buy now, and pay later" entice us to spend more than we have. It can work for us only if we can pay on time in full; otherwise we run the risk of overspending and then being unable to pay or having to pay back interest at a high rate. Thus, for many, the holidays present us with financial stress.

The holidays are often associated with personal stress, as well. Again, the media and advertisements present us with pictures of joyful families celebrating with love and happiness-the ideal "perfect" setting which does not apply to most of us. Life's challenges do not disappear because the holidays are here; in fact they may increase this time of year. For those of us who have happy memories of family holidays, the loss of loved ones, geographic separations or change in the family structure may make us melancholy, longing for the past like celebrations. Those of us whose family celebrations were unpleasant or unusually stressful in the past may find it difficult to reunite with family at this time; unpleasant memories may conjure up unpleasant feelings associated with the past regardless of who we celebrate with now. Those of us who prefer to separate our personal from work life often feel stressed at the thought of attending a work related holiday party. What are the repercussions if I do not attend? Do I get my boss a gift or not? Do I dance with my secretary or not? If I drink too much, will I be inappropriate in how I interact with my colleagues?

Lastly, there is the pressure of time. How do I find the time to finish all that needs to be done in preparation for the holiday season? Even those of us who love the holidays feel the stress of the preparation and build up.

Techniques for Coping with Holiday Stress

  • Do not just go out and spend money on gifts. Plan! Make a list of those who you will be buying gifts for, what you think you would like to buy them and the estimated cost. Allocate an amount that fits your budget and that will not result in too much of a financial burden for you. If you have the talent, consider personal gifts through carpentry, baking, etc.

  • Leave enough money in your budget to treat yourself to a gift this holiday season.

  • Think about who you would like to share the holidays with. If you have family obligations that you are not excited about, make additional plans around holiday time with friends.

  • If you do not enjoy the work environment at holiday time, consider taking some time off if it is available to you. By taking time off, you can avoid the holiday party that you may not want to go to. If you think it is important to attend the party, stay for a short time, enough to have made the "proper" appearance.

  • Allow yourself to feel whatever you feel. Don't make the mistake of thinking everyone is feeling joyous and content and pressure yourself if you do not share these feelings.

  • Remember to exercise, eat healthy, get enough sleep, and take time to relax.

  • Remember that in spite of the stress, the holidays can be fun.

Remember to:

Balance the time you spend on work, home, family and friends and on taking care of yourself

Take time for fun and relaxation


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