US company VitalSmarts has done a survey that identified the top five holiday stressors and also gave tips on how to deal with them.
The top five stresses were:
- Keeping up – trying to stay on top of all the activities, pressures and expectations that come with the holidays
- Finances – blowing the budget so that the holidays are extra special
- Shopping – trying to find the ‘perfect gift’ for those special people in our lives
- Family events – attending holiday dinners, parties, and gatherings with relatives
- Physical health – trying to stay healthy and active at a time when food and festivities are in overabundance
Helene Vermaak, director at The Human Edge, VitalSmarts’s local partner, said: “Many of us just take on more than we are able to get done over the holidays and overcommit ourselves.
“This increase in stress can place a significant toll on health at a time where we should be recharging.”
Researchers have found that the holidays, while festive, provide the perfect combination for schedule and relationship overload. Spending a lot more time with family and friends over the holidays and, the additional stress in trying to make sure that everything is perfect increases the pressure on everyone.
Tips on dealing with holiday stressors:
- Manage your commitments even if this means having to say no. When a crucial conversation takes place under conditions of stress, our intentions can become short-term and selfish. We tend to be more concerned if others will like us, whether we’ll look good, be right, or rather try to avoid conflict. The problem with short-term motives is that they preserve the present by mortgaging the future. Ask yourself – what do I really want? – for me, the other person and the relationship?
- Unhelpful emotions are another barrier to a productive conversation. We often come in angry, scared, hurt, or defensive. Surprisingly, our emotions have less to do with what the other person is doing, and more to do with the story we tell ourselves about what they are doing.
- Importantly, bring an attitude of confidence and curiosity. Before the conversation, think through your position, so that you are confident that it has merit. Have enough humility to be interested in any facts or logic that might affect the conversation.
- Define your boundaries and step back from the behaviours and situations that may be causing you stress without fully stepping back from the person you are having the conversation with.
- Avoid creating an approach of all-or-nothing by taking the time to establish and reinforce safety with the person you may be ‘letting down’. Propose things that you would rather do so that you are able to foster the relationship and that the person understands your situation.