The holidays can bring on extra pressure that leads to stress, but there’s a right way and a wrong way to deal with it. In this article, we’ll point out some common misconceptions as we show you what NOT to do when it comes to handling holiday stress.
From the Internet to self-help magazines and books, there exists a multitude of well-intentioned advice telling you how to relieve stress.
But here’s the problem… Many of those “should do” pieces of advice can be the very thing that is causing your stress in the first place! What ends up happening is a vicious cycle where one move precipitates another that only piles on more stress.
As you read some of the suggestions that are about to follow, you may be a little surprised, even find yourself asking if we’re crazy! That’s because some of the advice you are about to receive here may sound counterintuitive – and that’s mainly because it’s the opposite of what everyone else is telling you to do. But if you take the time to give these tips careful thought, you’ll come to understand why the suggestions make sense. There’s a definite method to our madness!
We’re going to show you the “common wisdom,” why it’s wrong, and then what you should be doing instead.
Wrong, do the opposite: Eat what you want.
Just the having to diet can cause stress during the holidays. Part of it is the temptation alone. But when you’re totally stressed out, some comfort food can help. Some foods, such as chocolate, have mood elevating properties. Punishing yourself with dieting when you’re stressed to the max is only going to make things worse. You can work it off with exercise later, but if eating something calms you down when holiday stress is more than you can take, then don’t deny yourself.
Wrong, stress is a part of life and it can be helpful.
Worrying about stress can make you more stressed. Just accept that there is going to be stress during the holidays. In fact, when you get stressed – that’s a red flag you need to do something – or more importantly – that you DO NOT need to do something. The advice here is… Let go of the things everyone else is telling you have to worry about. Do what it is important to you and/or makes you feel better. Don’t let everyone else’s expectations get the best of you.
Wrong, be selfish with your time.
One of the major causes of stress during the holidays is too many demands – especially on your time. It’s about survival here. If the demands on your time are wearing you down, something’s gotta give – and don’t let it be your mental or physical health. Give what you can, but draw a line in the sand where you need to protect yourself. You have to take care of yourself first.
Wrong, it’s better to do what you can yourself.
When you’re feeling overburdened, common advice is that you should ask others for help. But here’s the thing… Who you ask for help matters. Everyone could be just as overburdened as you are during the holidays. If you ask someone else for help, like your significant other or in-laws – they may reluctantly help you – but you might never hear the end of it. That’s only going to make you more stressed. Instead, it’s better to prioritize and get the most important things done. From there, the lesser things will be easier to work out or let go.
Wrong, let exercise go if it’s adding to your stress.
We all know that exercising can help reduce stress. But when you don’t have time to exercise, the guilt from missing your workout can add to your stress. The holidays place extra demands on our time and it makes it difficult to fit everything in. Something’s gotta give. If it’s your exercise regimen, don’t sweat it. You can let your exercise slide for now and you’ll catch back up easily enough after the holidays.