Managing stress during the holidays

Submitted by goodnatured on Sun, 12/09/2007 - 16:29


Managing Family Stress During the Holidays
This holiday season make a special list. And check it twice! No! Not the kind of list that asks for presents, but one that helps you and your family navigate the stress the holiday season brings. Regardless of how few activities you have planned, stress can creep into your family life because many factors intensify during the holidays.

African American women, like most women who have multiple demands in their lives, often don't find the time to think about how stressed they are.

As a mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, employee, employer and volunteer, you have myriad responsibilities. Your list may be quite long and overwhelming, but slowing down, thinking about how you will handle all the tasks, making a plan, and asking for assistance will help you survive the holidays.

Reverend Alice Davis, Executive Minister of Shiloh Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., says that one of the major sources of stress for African American women is gift giving. "We tend to give expensive gifts that sometimes we can't afford. Gift giving doesn't have to be expensive. We tend to overspend, and we should not do it because overspending will give us stress the rest of the year."

Stress is unavoidable, but it can be controlled and minimized. Set the tone early, and your family will follow your lead:

Set a budget for gift giving to avoid overspending.
Make presents at home such as bookmarks, cookies, tree ornaments, or holiday cards.
Find free activities to share with your family.
Avoid the pressure to buy a gift for every child and adult in your family.
Institute a family gift exchange to ease money tensions.
Stress does not come only from holiday-related activities. An ill family member, loneliness during the holidays, unresolved grudges with family members, weight- related issues, drinking problems, and work may all contribute to stress.

It is key, however, to identify the issues that cause you stress. If seeing that cousin who has not spoken to you in years is stressful, then try to put the situation in perspective:

You can't mend a relationship in one day, but the holiday season may lend itself to a renewed spirit of forgiveness.
Limit the length of your visit or conversation with a person who upsets you.
Try to enjoy the company of family members you miss.
Children's happiness is contagious; enjoy their company.
Focus on the blessings your family has received during the year.
Stress not only reduces your quality of life but it can develop into depression, which is common, especially among women, during the holidays. Consider some of these recommendations to help you get started with your plan to reduce and manage stress:

Share the list of tasks you need to accomplish. Enlist the help of your significant other, your children, other family members, and friends.
Attend celebrations that bring you peace and joy.
Share the holidays with a neighbor, volunteer at a shelter, or adopt a family in need.
Do something just for yourself.
Have family get-togethers and focus on the positive.
Have a potluck holiday celebration so no one feels overwhelmed with all the preparations.
Shop early to avoid the crowds.
If you don't celebrate the holidays, prepare mentally for the activities that surround you. Find something to do that you really like, holiday-related or not, and have fun.
Don't worry about a perfectly clean house; enjoy the clutter of the holidays!

Happy Holidays to all of you. Along with the holidays comes alot of stress, so you need to take time to unwind and save yourself some health issues later down the road. Here are some things I do.

1. Start shopping early, if you start the day after christmas, you will find better bargains. You will save a ton of money, you will of course need to put it all away till next year. But you can get alot of shopping done way in advance and at a lower price.

2. Make christmas about spending time with each other, you can do "I owe you's" as christmas presence. Just make sure you have the time to follow through with these. Some good ones might be: babysitting for someone free of charge, doing a siblings chores, or a parents chores, shoveling snow, cleaning windows, etc. The list goes on and on, so it is money saved and time well spent.

3. Teach children young that christmas is not about the material things in life, they don't need everything they see on television and that their christmas is not ruined if they don't get it. The electronic items are so expensive and if you have more than one child, these items are better off being purchased at birthdays when you only have one to buy, versus buying more than one. If you buy this type of stuff at all.

4. On you, what do you do to make the holiday time less stressful?

Sun, 12/09/2007 - 16:30 Permalink

I shop all year and then start to panic that I don't have everything around the holiday season, I try making a list but then always find more things on sale and buy for the kids, then have to buy more for the other kids, how do I narrow this down. I have tried just setting one amount for each child, but then those sales come and I blow it.

Sun, 12/09/2007 - 17:17 Permalink

With your heart condition does not sound like you can afford the extra stress of the holidays. You should take every step possible to avoid it. Pick a money amount and stick to it. As far as the sales, if you already bought for that child then avoid the rack, go away from it, just because it is there does not mean that you have to buy it.

The kids won't know that you passed up the bargain, they will be happy with what you got them. so stop stressing out.

Sun, 12/09/2007 - 17:41 Permalink

It always happens that i exceed what i calculate and stipulate for my expenditure. But this year i managed to save with a lot of gift coming from my own creations.

Mon, 12/10/2007 - 06:57 Permalink

great george, care to share any of your ideas, we would love to hear them, we may try them also. please share?

Mon, 12/10/2007 - 11:46 Permalink

I get stressed out during the holidays because i have four kids and sometimes i just don't feel like i have done enough for them. I spend the time with them in the baking of cookies and things like that but i know they don't get everything that their friends get. I hope they understand that christmas is not about what all you get, i try to tell them this, but sometimes i know they feel cheated. I do the best I can.

Tue, 12/11/2007 - 02:04 Permalink

oh crackerjack, i'm sorry to hear that you feel that way for i'm betting that your children will remember all that time in the kitchen rather than what they got in the physical form. that's what i remember anyway and plan on carrying the baking tradition on with our son when he gets a bit older. spending time with them and giving them the love and support is all the need reallly. they may be a bit young to understand that Christmas is not about material things but about spirit but you are providing a strong example for them to follow as they approach adulthood. you will be paid back ten fold for spending time with them and creating your own traditions.
It just seems to me personally that shopping is no longer fun :( too many people in the malls, went to get my sons pic taken with santa and there was a line longer than this city. thankfully walmart gave us one for free!! we have a tiny walmart here and hardly anyone was there :) but you can't even breathe then if you order online you see the money bills piling up. that's why i'm pretty adamnet about doing my own gifts. I make sachets and gift baskets and they look nice and people never know the difference :)

Tue, 12/11/2007 - 02:10 Permalink

thank you for the reinforcement debt, it is good to have someone who understands, it still saddens me sometimes, i hope they will remember the time that I spend and charish it as much as I do. I have a teenage daughter who is getting pretty mouthy these days and giving me alot of headaches, I am at the end of my ropes with her, just don't know what to do with her anymore. that is where most of my stress comes from, worrying about her and the choices she makes. We fight, she retailiates with stupid stuff that kids do, but her threats are getting to me these days. She does not realize the consequences to her actions, like threatening me to go get pg, she is a child, I am about pulling my hair out with her. I love her and she is my only daughter, it just breaks my heart some times, I don't know where my little girl went. We get along for a week then we fight for a week, this is a fight week, lol, I am sure we will get through it.

Tue, 12/11/2007 - 02:19 Permalink

Hey cracker dont you worry. I told you those. You can try out. It worked with my sister. Rather than fighting, Mom discussed family issues with her. It worked

Tue, 12/11/2007 - 10:32 Permalink

Cracker, teenagers really don't have any control over their mouths, LOL. I once read a sign that said, "Hire a teenager while they still know everything" how true. She will eventually grow out of this, it is a stage that they all go through. Alice Cooper wrote a song, Eighteen: he says, "I'm eighteen, I get confused everyday"

Being a teenagers isn't easy, thinking you got it all figured out and not having any way to validate it is tough. Imagine being a high school teacher and having to deal with a whole classroom full of know it alls. Talk about stress, I could never do it.

Hang in there, this too shall pass and there are better times ahead, alot of people and their kids have survived the teenage years without jail time or worse, LOL.

Tue, 12/11/2007 - 12:03 Permalink

I know we will be ok, it is just hard sometimes to listen to the things she says, she has never taken action on them. It just hurts me when she says the things she does and she does not seem to care that she is hurting my feelings. She is one of four and is the only girl, we should be closer than any of the other kids. Her father don't help things because he gives her so much freedom when she is at his house, really defies every rule that I put down or puts ideas in her head and the other kids heads knowing full well that I can't afford half the stuff he tells them. I am hoping that she will get a summer job and learn some responsibility, I think that would be a nice break for both of us. I know she is still a kid and that is what scares me the most, hoping she don't make the wrong decisons out of spite when she is out of my care.

Wed, 12/12/2007 - 00:31 Permalink

I hope she recognizes her responsibilities.

Wed, 12/12/2007 - 05:24 Permalink

Hang in there cracker, you will live through this, just take a deep breath, before you know it, she will be out of school and well on her way and you will miss the interaction with her, even the bad times.

Thu, 12/13/2007 - 00:35 Permalink

I know, she is calming down this week, we have our good weeks and our bad weeks, I am hoping we can get through the holiday without a big explosion, it is so nice just to spend some civil time with her. She reminds me of myself so much when I was younger, but as her mother, like my mother I have to put limits on her. We will leave, thanks for listening to me and letting me get it off my chest.

Thu, 12/13/2007 - 23:43 Permalink (not verified)

Hey i know a lot on stress, Ihave the most stressful life imagineable, Ihave to go to counseling and I take adivan for it . If i didnt take any thing id go crazy , I take anxiety attacks from it also, although im getting better at handeling it. all i can say is get out and dont brew over and over on anything learn to let it go. Think about it decide what you need to do and let it go or you"ll go crazy and no one will even know whats eating you.

Thu, 12/13/2007 - 23:57 Permalink

I try to get out but my stress always follows me, when you have four kids it is hared to get away period, you always have someone at your side. I see what your saying though, I need to find something just for me and go do it every now and then. Anyone else, just get away, if so what types of things do you do?

Fri, 12/14/2007 - 00:30 Permalink

I am still not into my family. So most of it is taken care by maa. I know her stress but I have been supporting to her always. I understand your problems but you need to share. I think that is very important.

Fri, 12/14/2007 - 06:28 Permalink

That is nice that you have a close relationship with your mother Laura, that is awesome.

I like to come on these forums, I release alot of stress here, especially if someone has a problem that I can help with. I get redirected and forget about what I am stressed out about, if only for a little while, LOL.

So you all are my stress relievers!!!!!!!!

Sat, 12/15/2007 - 22:49 Permalink

yeah, okay, I do believe you, I feel a little tension relief since coming here really. It is good to get feedback from people who are not involved in the problem. I know I have said it a few times, but thank you all again for helping me out.
Some other things I do to relieve stress is to work on my flower gardens, they did not do too well this year, running with the kids alot to activities and appointments.
This might sound wierd to all of you, but I have a bunch of chickens and they are stress relievers too, somehow, they just do it for me, I know I am a weirdo, ha ha.

Sun, 12/16/2007 - 02:37 Permalink

Dont call yourself a weirdo. Anything can be a stress buster. It can be cutting grass, flipping through the pages of an old book, gardening is a great thing to do, and chickens can be really sweet. Running around with them gives bodily exercise and thus relieving you from stress.

Tue, 12/18/2007 - 07:26 Permalink

hang ---in--ther !!!!!
i have stress year round sometimes its to much but i hang in there and you can too go for a walk or read a book listen to music or just scream. lol

Mon, 01/07/2008 - 21:22 Permalink

Real good Laura and it will clear your lungs, LOL.

I use this forum and other forums as stress relief, LOL, really it helps to share your problem.

Tue, 01/08/2008 - 15:38 Permalink

stress is a big problem for everyone dureing the holidays but becomes a problem if you carry it with you through the year like i do.
ive always had alot of stress after raiseing my family i thought it would go away but it doesnt. dont suggest conseling i already go and it helps but it takes so long i just want my own life.

Fri, 01/11/2008 - 23:59 Permalink

I am glad the big holidays are over, Christmas and Thanksgiving so close together, it can get really stressful. I think it gets more commercialized every year, it would be nice to be able to sit down and relax and enjoy the holidays, but the way things are today, that is next to impossible. It is a lot of running and shopping and dealing with crowds of people.

Sat, 01/12/2008 - 01:45 Permalink

I never calm down thats why i go to counseling, I cant let go of things that bother me. I think of things and it eats at me untill i cant stand it.I know what i need to do but its not that easy. my family doesnt understand me or what im going through but thats im posible to talk to them. my counselor has helped me a lot but some things i just cant talk to him about he said take my time hes patient , well we will see maybe someday but for now i take pills.

Wed, 01/23/2008 - 21:36 Permalink