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6 Holiday stressors to watch out for this holiday season

The holiday season is always a time of great excitement, thankfulness, and (hopefully) relaxation, but there are also a variety of reasons why the most wonderful time of the year may leave some feeling stressed out.

 

During the holidays, it’s important to monitor your stress levels and ensure that you’re having an enjoyable and restful time with your friends and family – not leaving yourself feeling frazzled! One in four (1:4) people report being stressed about the Christmas holidays and one in six (1:6) report this time of year as stressful as divorce, moving house and changing jobs.

 

To prepare yourself for the holidays, it’s important to familiarise yourself with the top 6 holiday stressors.

 

The top 6 holiday stressors

1 - Entertaining guests

2 - Living up to the hype

3 – Spending money

4 – Dealing with unpleasant family members

5 – Mental Health

6 – Physical Health

 

Holiday Stressor 1: Entertaining guests

If your house tends to be the traditional gathering spot for all your friends and family for a holiday celebration, you may find yourself in the throes of some major stress. Between preparing enough food, decorating, cleaning your rooms, and making sure everyone is having a good time, you may not have much time for yourself!

 

This time of year, and Christmas, is most stressful for moms because it is usually them who are responsible for meeting the increased demands of cooking, cleaning, baking, shopping and entertaining. If you’re the entertainer of your friend or family group, make sure to schedule some “you” time to recharge and relax, and ask for help with all of the extra chores.

 

Here's 48 Christmas Conversation Starters, so you are your guests are entertained this year. 

 

Holiday Stressor 2: Living up to the hype

Often, people feel a lot of pressure to make the holidays a super memorable experience especially after the year we have had. You may want your children to have the perfect and magical Christmas morning. The idea of your whole family gathering around a beautifully arranged dinner table may seem like a vision you want to bring to life right down to each and every tiny detail. Remember, families change and grow, and rituals and traditions will change too. This is the first year we haven’t done ‘Elf on the Shelf’ because my children are a bit old for that now. 

 

You may even want to try and fit in the last 6 months of socialising in a 3-week period to make up for lost time. If that’s the case, pace yourself! You may want to consider building in some flexibility to your schedule so that you aren’t exhausted by all the socialising. And book in some highlights so that you have events to look forward to and they can re-energise you.

 

When trying to make up for last time and creating moments that reflect your exact visions of perfection, you may forget to actually participate in all the fun and memory-making! Instead of being involved in the events, you may find yourself in a stressful frenzy trying to keep all the details aligned. So be mindful and allow yourself to enjoy the moments by letting go of expectations and accepting that what will be, will be!

 

Here's 48 Christmas Conversation Starters, so you can lighten the mood with a bit of fun.

 

Holiday Stressor 3: Spending Money

Family and money are the most stressful elements of the summer holidays. Between the decorations, the elaborate meals, the office parties, the gift shopping lists, and the new family outfits….the holiday season can become incredibly expensive!

 

People tend to feel a lot of stress around the holidays because it means they’ll be spending much more money than usual. If it’s difficult for you to save extra cash for the holidays during the year, knowing that you may face expectations to spend extra money during this time can cause tension to rise.

 

If money is a concern, setting a budget is a smart thing to do. Take the stress out of Christmas gift purchasing and set some boundaries around it. If you have a lot of gifts to purchase you may want to consider group gifts or agreeing amongst your group, a budget limit for gifts.

 

Often people go in to the summer holidays still paying off the previous summer holiday. It can be easier to spend money when you’re on holiday, especially when you feel more relaxed, and if you would like to start 2022 financially well, it would be prudent to set yourself a budget for the holidays.  

 

No need to buy another holiday game, here's 48 Christmas Conversation Starters, so you are your guests are entertained this year with great conversation. 

 

Holiday Stressor 4: Dealing with unpleasant family members

Sometimes the holiday season is the only time you may ever see some of your family members – and for good reason. While you may only see some of your family on occasion due to travel barriers, you may only see some family on the holidays because they’re unpleasant!

 

Many families have someone in them who creates an unpleasant atmosphere, makes others feel stressed before they even arrive at the event, or gets mean after a few drinks. Knowing that you may have to spend time around these folks can make the holiday season feel particularly stressful.

 

If this sounds like some of the events in your calendar, then I recommend you limit your exposure to these people by setting a time limit or enlisting someone at the event to help you avoid them. Or you can just accept them as they are, and show some empathy – not always a first choice!

 

To help you have some fun this Christmas, here's some fun Christmas Conversation Starters that you can divert the conversation if guests are getting testy. 

 

Holiday Stressor 5: Mental health  

The holidays are often a bright spot in the calendar. This year you may be missing people are not able to join you or have passed on, and it’s okay to feel sad about that. It’s okay to grieve for the hopes you had for the holidays and express your feelings or cry.

 

WIth a global pandemic happening in the background, holidays and socialising looks a little different this year. Bearing that in mind, you may want to find an alternative way to celebrate by sharing pictures, videos or emails online with those who couldn’t travel to be with you.

 

If you’re feeling sad, lonely or isolated over the holidays, it can cause a lot of extra stress on top of an already-busy time of the year. Reach out to frineds and family for connection. Perhaps go through your contacts and phone someone you haven't spoken to for ages. It'll make their day that you were thinking of them and catching up will have a double benefit for both of you. 

 

Last year, a work colleague I hadn't spoken to in nearly 20 years, called me out of the blue. (Thanks to mobile porting I have had the same personal mobile number since arriving in Australia). It was a wonderful surprise and it was wonderful to catch up and hear what he and his family had been up to. I was amazed at how much we had both remembered about each other's lives. I smiled about that call for a week or two at least!  

 

Holidays Stressor 6: Physical Health

Hold on to your rituals and keep moving, even if it’s only going for walks. Just because you are on holiday it’s not an excuse to let go of the rituals that book-end your day or to stop doing the things that keep you feeling good about yourself. Often letting go of these rituals cause more stress in the long-term, especially after the holiday.

 

If you run the risk of over-indulging with all the socialising you’re planning, you may want to plan exercise in the mornings and consider eating something healthy before the party so you’re not hungry when you arrive. Notice your treats over the holidays, if that is a risk for you, I know it is for me, each treat needs to be offset by something healthy. I have promised myself not to eat a treat when I’m hungry – I’ll let you know how I go!

 

So, keep eating healthily, maintain a healthy sleep pattern and exercise to maintain your physical health.

 

So, there you have it, the six most common holiday stressors, no matter where you are in the world. Of course, you’re might have more depending on your particular situation, but if you are able to mitigate against these 6 holiday stressors, then you will have more energy to manage your others when they arise. 

 

Be aware that often when you start to relax and let go of the office and you start to get into the holiday mode, that is the time when emotions and thoughts pop up seemingly from nowhere. It’s no surprise. It’s because your mind has quietened, and you have time and space for unrealised thoughts and feelings to emerge. I’d encourage you to take note of them because they often hold the key to what’s getting in your way. And if you are afraid to process them alone, I’d encourage you to seek out the support of a professional. Many counsellors and psychotherapists are working over the holidays because it’s a busy time, so reach out and get the support you need.

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