Communities That Care: Remember the three P’s in surviving holiday stress

December 12, 2012 

For most people, the holiday season inspires hope that the season will bring friendliness, happiness and harmony. Sometimes, however, those feelings of anticipation and excitement can lead to feelings of holiday stress and even depression. Increased demands due to overscheduled social schedules, entertaining responsibilities, gift shopping, decorating, houseguests and increased financial burdens cantake an emotional toll.

Many people who report that they feel “down” over the holidays experience symptoms such sadness, headaches, insomnia, uneasiness, anxiety and increased family stress. As a result, individuals tend to cope by overconsuming in many ways, especially those related to food, drink and spending.

Instead of falling into the trap over overconsumption this year, why not formulate an effective holiday management strategy that will pre-emptively assist you in managing the stress associated with the season? In creating your holiday stress management strategy, consider the three P’s that can contribute to your success: preconceived ideas, planning, and perspective.

Preconceived ideas: Rid yourself of preconceived ideas about how your holiday season should be, especially if they are unobtainable. Think about those holiday traditions that you most value and use those as the core of your holiday activities. Let go of those that are not pertinent to your holiday enjoyment. This can be a challenging task, but it can be very liberating and allow you to focus your energy on making the holiday memories that mean the most to you.

Planning: Don’t make snap decisions. Before committing to any holiday responsibility or social event, take time to consider your current commitments and responsibilities. Also consider what level of involvement in the proposed activity will make you most happy. Instead of providing an entire dinner for a holiday party, consider preparing just a favorite dessert that you enjoy making and ask others to bring their favorite dishes too. This not only provides you with a manageable task, but it also allows others to share in the activity in a way that may contribute to their holiday happiness.

Perspective: Try to remember that the holiday experience is only a limited proportion of the year and that others may be feeling the same way you are. You are not alone in the holiday hustle and bustle.

As with all strategies, they are meant to be tested and adjusted based on needs and outcomes. This holiday season try to initiate a holiday stress management strategy to help ensure you capture the maximum joy that the holiday season has to offer.

Elizabeth Eckley is the Community Mobilizer for Centre County Communities That Care. This weekly column is a collaboration of Centre County Communities that Care serving Bald Eagle, Bellefonte, Penns Valley and Philipsburg-Osceola area school districts, and Care Partnership: Centre Region Communities That Care serving the State College Area School District.

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