Ditching the Holiday Stress

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


December 19, 2014

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



Thought This Might Be of Interest

meangirlsWatch your back. Ten years after the Lindsey Lohan movie Mean Girls was released comes a new study from the University of Georgia that found boys may actually be meaner than girls. "It has long been speculated that boys are more likely to shove you into a locker, while girls are more apt to spread a rumor that you didn’t wear deodorant to gym class. Relationally aggressive behavior is the stuff that Mean Girls  is made of -- malicious rumors, social exclusion and rejection -- and it turns out that boys are pretty good at it too," notes  Time magazine, summarizing the study. Boys engaged in that relationally aggressive behavior more than girls -- in addition to being physically aggressive. Moviemakers are planning a sequel to  Mean Girls and Time came to the same conclusion we did: maybe they should call it Mean Boys.


Why the French are sexier. Maybe because they talk about it a lot more, a lot younger, with -- wait for it -- their kids. A fascinating column in the New York Times by Pamela Druckerman recounts her experience trying to talk to her kids about sex in France, and discovering that French kids don't get a hurried explanation followed by stammering and a brush-off. What they get is The Book, as in, "Here, read this." Druckerman says the "books" she's seen generally stress that, "if you use protection and are in a healthy relationship, sex can be something quite great." She also recounts a museum exhibition on sexuality aimed at 9-to 14-year olds. On kissing: "Do turn your head sideways, especially if you've got a big nose." Not exactly what our parents told us. 


Do these pants make my beer look big? Facebook, believe it or not, wants to save you from yourself. The Guardian writes that the social network is developing a technology to determine if the picture you want to post is potentially embarrassing, and then asks you if you really, really want to do that. Eventually, the system may let you know if someone else is about to post a picture of you that you'd rather your boss not see.


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