Tis the season to lose the small amount of sanity we have left.
With work, kids (at home or grown), aging parents and extended family, holiday pressure is that “one more” thing that easily upsets the apple cart. This year, I’ve taken closer note of the ideas for handling holiday stress in hopes of finding useful suggestions for keeping my wits about me through the New Year.
In the interest of helping you too, I’ll keep this short.
The American Psychological Association (APA) says you should take time for yourself, volunteer, have realistic expectations, seek support and remember what’s important -- and it’s definitely not store-bought presents, elaborate decorations or gourmet food.
The idea of taking time for yourself may seem laughable in the face of 5-foot long to do lists. But it really is a good suggestion. Give yourself permission to go to the gym, take a hike or read a book. The APA says recharged batteries help you and your family keep an even keel. A break from holiday music can be nice, too.
This year, I chipped in for season tickets to the Berkeley Repertory Theater here in California with a good friend. Our seats for "Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins" happens to be for this upcoming Saturday night. After checking in with my family, I've given myself permission to go without guilt and enjoy some much-needed laughs and intellectual stimulation.
Gift giving is another big stressor and while kids’ lists get shorter as they get older, the items on them may also get more expensive. Ease the expense by taking advantage of free online shipping whenever possible. Shipping costs are one item that the blog Women&Co says most people don’t take into account. Shipping fees can add up and sending a $15 gift for $25 is just crazy making.
If you come from a large family, Women&Co has another great suggestion: Group gifts. Get everyone to go in on a group dinner or tickets for a show and enjoy a great experience together. Psychologists have found that experiential purchases create more long-term happiness and value than material acquisitions.
My fondest holiday memories come from the years my parents bought Broadway show tickets for the whole family as our special gift. Thanks to that tradition, I had the privilege of seeing the original casts of "Evita" and "Cats," and to this day I remember the thrill of seeing Mandy Patankin and Patti Lupone playing Che and Evita, respectively.
I’ll leave you with the APA’s tip on expectations: “No Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanza or other holiday celebration is perfect. View inevitable missteps as opportunities to demonstrate flexibility and resilience. A lopsided tree or a burned brisket won’t ruin your holiday; rather, it will create a family memory.”
So go ahead and create some family memories – but kick back and take a break first. Cheers! -- Emily Brower Auchard
Missed our last issue? Here you go:
Good Reads, the 2014 Edition
If you liked this story, you might also like:
Keeping the Holiday Joy Alive
Bring on the Holiday Schmaltz
16 Guaranteed Stress Busters. Tested, Unfortunately.
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Photo of Patti Lupone as Evita
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