Holiday Stress Getting To You?

Holiday Stress Getting To You?

Holiday Stress Getting To You?

by Susan Neuhalfen


Tis the season for present-giving, New Year’s resolutions, eating, parties and, of course, family. What should be one big happy couple of weeks can become very stressful. Life in Castle Hills sat down with Wayne Cagle, a licensed professional counselor-supervisor at Lifeworks in Carrollton. Mr. Cagle listed some of biggest contributing factors to holiday stress, but instead of just discussing the problems that arise, he gave solutions as to how to deal with these issues:

L O S S   O F   W O R K

Many people lose their jobs just before the holidays and there isn’t a lot of hiring going on during the holiday season. This causes an extra amount of stress for people during a time where more money is spent than usual.

We don’t have control over losing a job; we only have control over what we do. Before you find yourself in this situation, take a good look at your lifestyle. If this happened, how long could you survive? Try to take yourself out of debt and, if possible, put some money into an “untouchable” savings account now. If you have lost your job, see where you can cut back. Take some time and make a list of all of your expenses monthly, weekly, annually, etc. What can you do without? Finally, find out if there is a way to “pass” on some of the Christmas presents this year. In some families, the adults don’t exchange presents. See if that is acceptable within your family.

L O S S   O F   R E L A T I O N S H I P S

Whether it be divorce, death, or simply the loss of a relationship, people realize that something is missing during the holidays. With the loss, traditions change, and change is always hard. The thing is, grief doesn’t actually go away, it just changes. Some may not even go into the grief consciously, it’s the holidays that remind them subconsciously.

The good news is that with the passage of time, things get better every year. Instead of turning that moment into grief, celebrate the person you’ve lost. Remember the good times and start a new tradition in order to remember the best in that person. This will help everyone to cope.

F A M I L Y   S T R E S S

Having to be with family tends to be a really big stressor for many. One may have to have Christmas dinner at her husband’s house but she hates her sister-in-law, etc. How do you cope with family stress?

Remind yourself that you’re not going to see the family, you’re going to spend time with your husband and it’s important to him. Now, pull back and think about who else will be there. Do you hate all of them? Chances are, you don’t. Reframe your perception of the idea or activity; stop focusing on the negative (i.e., your sister-in-law). The stress will not be eliminated, but by not focusing on the negative, you will lessen the stress and make the activity easier. Many times, the things we dread the most aren’t anywhere near as bad as we think they will be.

S T R I V I N G   F O R   P E R F E C T I O N

The perception that you’re a bad person if your children’s Christmas isn’t perfect is hogwash. If the tree isn’t perfectly trimmed and the cookies aren’t perfectly baked, it isn’t the end of the world. This isn’t a competition.

Think back to your favorite holidays. Were they great because of a gift? Were they great because the turkey was perfectly cooked? The best gifts are memories. Try this: let your kids decorate the tree however they desire and leave that way. The memory of the activity will likely stand out longer in their memory than a perfectly trimmed tree. The most important thing to remember, according to Mr. Cagle, is to focus on the positive. Your expectation automatically assumes reality. Stress cannot be completely eliminated.  You have to have stress in your life; the trick is to manage it so it doesn’t manage you.

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