This time of year, it’s easy to get frazzled. With family obligations, holiday parties to attend, cookies to bake, presents to buy, crummy weather to navigate — it can seem overwhelming. Not to mention that it’s not easy to wrap a perfect present when a 3-year-old is trying to assist … or that the imperfectly wrapped present gets destroyed the second you put it under the tree!
While you can’t add more hours to the day to help you complete your to-do list, you can minimize the stresses you do have. So instead of collapsing into a puddle of melted snow like Frosty or turning into a big old Grinch, examine your stressors to see if there is anything you can nix or take down a notch. Better yet, read on to see if any of these common stressors are bringing you down. Some of these are little stresses that you’ll find year-round, but some tend to crop up this time of year. Either way, we’ve got ways to take that frazzled feeling down a notch so you can enjoy your holidays sans stress!
7 Stressors … and How You Can Minimize Their Effects 1 of 8
Stressed out and frazzled by the demands of the day-to-day grind? Take a look at these 7 stressors, and find ways to minimize their effects!
Step Away From the Cell Phone 2 of 8
A recent study that examined cell phone use in college students concluded that for the population studied, high frequency cell phone users tended to have lower GPAs, higher anxiety, and lower satisfaction with life (happiness) relative to their peers who used the cell phone less often. If you find your stress is off the charts, try putting down your cell phone. Make rules like only checking it hourly, turning it off at 8 p.m., and making it a point to put it down when you're with other people. You may be using your phone as a tool to procrastinate, which only compounds stress!
Photo credit: jseliger2, Flickr
Conquer Clutter — or Don’t Let It Get to You 3 of 8
According to Psychology Today, mess and clutter cause stress for a whole host of reasons, from overstimulation to distracting us from tasks at hand, to making it difficult to relax and feeling like our work is never done. Take some time to tackle the clutter and mess. But if you have kids, you know that "mess" is more a constant state of being than something that can be fixed. So in that case, take a hint from Kid President and embrace the mess, and lower your cleanliness standards just a touch so you're not always stressed about it. And just go watch his video if you need a pep talk.
Photo credit: r0Kk, Flickr
Embrace the Email 4 of 8
I was complaining recently about my out-of-control email inboxes to a friend and she had the best response: When you're dead, your inbox will be full. While morbid, it really did take the pressure off of feeling the need to respond to every little email and the need to get my new messages down to a manageable number.
Most people who don't respond to emails cite lack of time and too many e-mails as the most common reasons they don't reply, according to a really interesting article on the topic. Checking e-mails on one device, like a smartphone, and forgetting your intent to reply more in-depth at another time is another stresser. If your smartphone has you feeling like you need to be in touch via email 24/7, it may help you to step away or de-prioritize your email communications. Let the important people in your life know that in an emergency, a text or phone call will get a quicker response. Star important emails that need a response, and don't stress about the rest. Even better — if an email warrants a response, shoot off a one-liner immediately to clear it off your plate and out of your inbox!
Photo credit: shawncampbell, Flickr
Step Back from Picky Eaters 5 of 8
Kids avoid all things green and leafy? Only eating mac and cheese or plain noodles? Offer the healthy goods, but stop stressing if your kiddo is a picky eater. One child expert says that most children who are perceived as picky eaters probably have adequate diets. Children between ages 2 and 5 show a natural aversion to new foods, so rather than think your child will be malnourished or be offended he doesn't like your goulash, accept it as a developmental stage that lasts a few years.
Photo credit: Bruce Tuten, Flickr
Remember That a Picture-Perfect Holiday Is for the Pictures 6 of 8
You've likely heard of the Holmes and Rahe stress scale, even if you don't know what it's called. It's the list of 43 stressful life events that can lead to illnesses. Topping the list are things like the death of a spouse, divorce, separation, and imprisonment — major life stresses. But included in the list toward the bottom is Christmas. That's right: the holidays are so demanding that they are considered a life stress. Rather than let them get you flustered, give up the idea of perfection when it comes to Christmas. It might mean scaling down on the number of gifts if money is tight or giving gift cards if you just don't have time to hit the mall. For me, it's meant giving up the idea of a picture perfect Christmas tree because as my kids slowly remove ornaments, they get placed at the top of our now-top-heavy tree. Remind yourself of the reason for the season, drink and eggnog, and make time to relax!
Photo credit: paparutzi, Flickr
Travel Like a Girl Scout: Always Be Prepared 7 of 8
Also listed as a stressful life event on that Holmes and Rahe scale? Travel. Combine holiday travel with the stress of the holidays, and you've got a recipe for an airport anxiety attack! If you're traveling with kids, whether by plane or car, I've got two words of advice: be prepared and flexible. Entertainment, snacks, and traveling at the right time of day work wonders in helping kids travel well. A flight schedule that will interfere with nap time? A recipe for disaster. Likewise, flexibility and a laid-back attitude are key in surviving travel with kiddos.
Photo credit: Vox Efx, Flickr
When Ill, Survival Is Key 8 of 8
While chronic illnesses in kids can cause major stress for the whole family, even minor acute illnesses can wreak havoc — think the whole family down with the flu. It's tough dealing with sick kids — and all of the not-so-fun cleaning side effects. So have your doctor on speed dial so you can call with any concerns and worries, and concentrate on getting better. It's time to set aside the ABCs, and the recommended daily allowance of fruits and vegetables. When everyone is sick, dial it in and veg out in front of Disney Junior all day. Drink chicken soup out of a sippy cup, and do what it takes to survive. As experts recommend to parents of kids with chronic illnesses, parents should help share the burden, and if someone offers to help in the form of bringing chicken noodle soup, take it!
Photo credit: danibabii08, Flickr
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