Take a long, deep breath… Allow your eyes to close… Relax…
IT’S THE HOLIDAYS!!!
YOU’VE GOT TO SHOP, BAKE, WRAP, HIDE, MAIL, INVITE, ATTEND AND DRIVE EVERYWHERE IN CRAZY TRAFFIC!!
Okay, take another long, deep breath… No? Not helping? Jaw clenched? You’re not alone.
A study by America’s Highbush Blueberry Council found almost a third of Americans describe the holiday season as ‘frantic.’
I know what you’re thinking, “What the heck is the Highbush Blueberry Council and why haven’t I been invited to any of their big live events?” Actually, the New York Post published the article about this study, but I couldn’t find it on the Blueberry folks website. I assume it’s there somewhere.
If you need more proof the holidays are stressful, a quick Google Search will turn up hundreds, here’s one from Harvard.
I could offer a detailed explanation of what the results are but since a picture is worth a thousand words, the basic conclusion of these and other studies is that the holiday season can be….
Why do We get so Stressed?
What’s driving this anxiety? It is the age we live in? Is it our age?
When I was younger my only stressor during the holiday was how many gifts I’d get, how much food there would be, how many chocolates could I consume, and why did I have to call grandma and thank her for the pair of socks, since that was the one lousy gift I got?
For adults, the ‘holiday season’ is a blur of deadlines and events from Thanksgiving to Chinese New Year. Throw in a couple birthdays for all the Sagittarians and Capricorns you know, office parties, family gatherings, church events, school concerts…
Sorry. Take three deep breaths…
A Holiday from Holidays?
Why can’t we just enjoy attending parties and hosting parties and decorating the house and office, while helping at the kids school, shopping for gifts, hostess gifts, cards, ugly sweaters, wine, beer, more wine, trees, candles, and decorations in the crowded stores at the noisy malls where the overflowing parking lot means a parking space near the entrance can trigger an OK Corral shootout?
Okay, I think I answered my own question.
But who doesn’t enjoy seeing friends and family, planning holiday dinners so ‘she’ doesn’t sit next to ‘her,’ and figuring out who is vegan, who’s allergic to what, and how do you tell you-know-who not to bring their three dogs?
Oh, and don’t forgot to put up lights, trim trees, cover your lawn or balcony with inflatable Santas, Menorahs, a giant turkey, or Nativity scene. Plus enough lights to decorate the roof of a planetarium.
And do get flu shot and then get the flu anyway.
Remember, the Holidays are a Time to…
…lay back, let go, and enjoy the snowy landscape as you wait for someone to come by and find you lying concussed on the icy sidewalk.
And while you’re sprawled there, enjoying that sudden wave of warmth that Arctic explorers know is the sign of impending death, here are some things to consider, some modest suggestions on how reduce the wear and tear of ‘the happiest time of the year.’
My wife suggested I share some suggestions we find reduce the anxiety and pressure during the 12 days of Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanza, Chinese New Year, Islamic New Year, Diwali, Bhodi Day, Pancha Ganapati, Yalda, Koliada, and for my wife and I, our wedding anniversary.
Seven Stress-Busters We Love
- Replace gifts with donations. Rather than give people stuff they can immediately re-gift or put in a storage unit make a donation in their name to a cause they love. (Is Shopaholics Anonymous a charity?)
- Entertain friends instead of family. If your in-laws are outlaws, bow out of family gatherings and have friends over, perhaps people who live alone, are empty nesters, or widowed.
- New Years Eve? Invite people with musical talent and have a sing-a-long. If it’s warm enough, photocopy lyrics, bring extra copies, and go caroling.
- Go Christmas shopping but don’t buy anything. Ava and I do this and it’s great. We window shop. We go in shops and putter around, “Oh, this is neat.” I enjoy a large order of New York Fries, which my wife points out are vegan, therefore she can enjoy half. We stroll and sing along with the Christmas Carols. People rush around, stressing, we amble along taking in all the sights and sounds.Sure, if we see something that would be perfect for Alice or Ruby or David or Olga we buy it. If we don’t see something that’s perfect we don’t buy something that ‘will have to do.’
- Suggest that friends, family, or coworkers forgo gifts.For our family I suggested we do a book exchange at Christmas. Everyone loved the idea. Each December we come away with a ton of recommended reading.If your family isn’t bookish trade DVDs, video games, or baked goods. Mmm. Pie.
- Do half the number of outdoor lights and lawn ornaments. Use the rest to decorate the home of an elderly neighbor who isn’t mobile enough to do it themselves.
- Give something from our shop. As you’ll see from the reviews, the videos and books are life changing. Give a membership to CHADD or ADDA. A subscription to Attitude Magazine.
- BONUS: Spending half an hour looking for a parking spot? Here’s my trick to eliminate hours of circling, “I think there’s an empty spot up there!… No, it’s a dumb Smart Car.” It’ll actually improve your health.
If you try any of these suggestions, let us know how it goes.
And please, share any creative ideas you’ve come up with to reduce stress? How did you let go of expectations and how did it worked out?
Finally, what is the biggest source of ‘Holiday Hostility’ for you?
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