According to a recent poll conducted by the American Psychological Association (APA), the holidays are a source of “multiple stressors.” Sixty-nine percent of respondents cited “lack of time” as a major stressor, 69 percent cited “lack of money” and 51 percent blamed extra stress on “the pressure to give or get gifts.”
Stress is bad for our health, our attitude, our happiness, and our overall well-being. The APA study also asked respondents how these stressors manifest themselves in their lives. 59 percent said they experienced sadness, 56 percent said they were having trouble sleeping and 55 percent said they had a lack of energy.
As moms, the last thing we need is additional stress so I’ve compiled a list of six tips to help moms avoid the holiday blues.
- Be prepared: preparation is the great anti-stress. In fact, proper preparations can help you actually enjoy the holidays. You can begin your shopping now, for example. Get organized by making a list of who you are buying gifts for, what they might like, and make an initial budget. Spend the next few months shopping at your leisure. Shopping months ahead of time might help you save money as well. Make a calendar of all of the events and parties and study it. If things seem too condensed or busy, don’t be afraid to politely decline some invitations.
- Avoid the hustle and bustle: If you are a stress junkie, participate in “Black Friday.” Nothing defines holiday stress like late-November at the mall—“Jingle Bells” at full blast, frantic, wide-eyed shoppers, hungry sales associates, and inflated prices. Shop online or go shopping during the middle of the week. Decide what you are buying and where and go to the store with focus.
- Watch your diet: The last 20 percent of the year is full of unhealthy eating options from Halloween candy to a giant Thanksgiving dinner to Christmas cookies. There’s nothing wrong with a little indulgence, but realize that a poor diet will add to your guilt-related stress as well as make it more difficult for your body to physically deal with the extra stress that comes with the holidays.
- Maintain your kids’ routine: The holidays are full of excuses to let them stay up late, let them eat junk food, and give them license to do things they wouldn’t normally be allowed to do. Of course, a holiday like Halloween almost requires that you let your kids stay up late and eat some candy, don’t let it become a habit. Kids thrive on routine. A routine will keep them well-behaved and in good spirits in the end, even if they protest. Any lack of consistency can introduce chaos into the parent-child relationship and, ultimately, make your life more difficult. Stick to mealtimes, bedtimes, and pre-established rules.
- Enroll your support network: maybe you and your friends can synchronize the holiday shopping or get together and make Christmas cookies with each other. This will give you an opportunity to spend time with the one’s you love (which is what the holidays is really all about) and accomplish holiday goals at the same time.
- Don’t forget about Mom-me time: In all the craziness, the hustle and bustle, the parties, the church events, the kids’ recitals, the shopping, the gift-wrapping, the cooking and cleaning, still make time for yourself. Take yourself on a date once a week. Overall, don’t forget about your routine. However, this doesn’t mean that you have to do everything you normally do on top of your holiday obligations. Blend. Perhaps your weekly date with yourself could be attending your office holiday party—by yourself. Just enjoy the off-time with your coworkers. Or maybe your weekly date is holiday shopping with the girls. Just remember to enjoy it—make a day of it. Have a coffee before you start shopping and see a movie afterwards, for example.
The holiday season doesn’t have to alter your life. Remember that it is a time for family and friends and not only about gifts and sugary treats. Continue to treat yourself right as if nothing is different.