Tis the Season to be J̶o̶l̶l̶y̶ Stressed?
The Christmas season can be lots of fun – the shopping, the presents, the food, the parties, the get-togethers with friends and family.
It can also be a particularly stressful time of year – the shopping, the presents, the food, the parties, the get-togethers with friends and family.
Christmas stress affects more people than you might think. A recent survey conducted by Healthline revealed that 62 percent of the people surveyed reported that they found the Christmas season to be “somewhat stressful” or “very stressful”.
Almost half of the respondents identified “finances” as the principal source of stress, spending money on gifts, parties, hosting. No wonder. ABC News reported that “the average American will spend $700 on holiday gifts and goodies this year”, according to National Retail Federation estimates. Investopedia puts the figure at $920 per person. Given that the current before-tax median weekly earnings are $919, that can be a big bite if you haven’t budgeted for it (and not many people do that!)
Another source of seasonal stress is hosting holiday get-togethers. Decorating, menu selection, food preparation (particularly if you’re feeding people with special diet needs), can be very stressful.
And bear in mind that “stress” is not limited to emotional stress; there are also physical stressors such as lack of sleep, overindulgence in sugary foods or alcohol, travel across time zones, and quality of your diet, excessive heat or cold, excessive noise, to name a few. These things all take their toll.
There have been any number of studies that confirm what most of us already know from personal experience -- stress can affect your period. Stress can suppress the functioning of the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus controls the pituitary gland, the “master gland” that controls the thyroid gland, the adrenal glands, and the ovaries.
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Menstrual irregularities, such as missed periods, extended periods, shortened periods, spotting, heightened PMS symptoms, emotional swings, irritability are all not-very-jolly symptoms you could expect when stress levels are over the top.
Wow! I don’t remember seeing that in “It’s a Wonderful Life” or “Miracle on 34th Street”.
Is it possible to entirely eliminate Christmas stress? Maybe not. Is it possible to reduce it? Yes, it is
Don’t overspend. That’s easier said than done, I know. It’s very tempting to spend more money than you’d planned, especially if you have a fistful of credit cards. One strategy is to establish a spending budget. Then take cash when you go shopping, and leave the debit card and credit cards at home.
Avoid crowded malls. Malls in December are generally big, noisy, crowded places filled with stressed-out shoppers. Sometimes they’re unavoidable, but there are alternatives. Small local shops often have unique items that you just can’t find at the big chain stores. There’s online shopping, an obvious way to avoid traffic, crowds, and misadventures in parking lots. If you have any crafting talents, homemade gifts can be delightful (and often less expensive to make).
Look after yourself. That should be way up there on your “to-do” list. A good diet is indispensable to your health. There’s an abundance of sugary treats at Christmastime, generally all through December. Those of us with a ferocious sweet tooth can find it hard to be moderate, but we should keep in mind that refined sugar messes with your hormones. It also clobbers your immune system. In the wise words of Dr. Michael Nowazek, “Resisting temptation pays off. After all, you and/or your kids being sick is not a good start to the New Year.” Try to stick to a wholesome diet and be sure to get enough water to keep you hydrated
Don’t skimp on sleep. Adequate sleep is essential to health, and the consequences of shorting yourself can be sweeping. Exhaustion not only makes everything tougher to deal with, it can also contribute to a variety of undesirable health conditions.
Relax and enjoy yourself. Hollywood and other media are really good at depicting “the perfect Christmas”. How realistic is that? Not very. Things happen. Go with it. So the Christmas tree is lopsided and the cat shredded some of the ornaments – relax, it’s not the end of the world. So the baked rolls you lovingly made are hard enough to crack molars – don’t worry about it; just whip out the package of store-bought rolls. So the sweater your Aunt Julia gave you makes you wonder if she went shopping in the “ugly bin” – just smile and say thank you (you can figure out later how to repurpose it). Remember that real life usually isn’t like a movie or a Norman Rockwell painting. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
We wish you all a very happy, healthy, and relaxed Christmas. Enjoy!