The possibility of stress around holiday periods skyrocket in majority of the population because of family and personal expectations, workload, and so on. Also, holiday stress has been a thing right from the beginning, but we have paid little attention to managing it because we didn’t know what to name those feelings we felt around the holidays.
The past few weeks have been extremely stressful for me for several reasons: how the holiday would go, if I would get a good reception at my hometown, how I would get my business at a good place before the holidays, would I have enough to spend, how do I have just enough fun and several other thoughts. I am currently on a supposed vacation, but I am still stressed about a few things. Even in the excitement of the holidays lies stress.
And that leaves you with the question, what feelings make up for holiday stress; what is holiday stress?
Why am I stressed?
Before addressing what holiday stress is, talking about the feelings and the why of holiday stress is crucial. Sincerely, there could be a ton of reasons for your stress; other times, it could just be a simple reason, or you might not even know the reason. Science and the world haven’t narrowed down why people react to stressors differently, as it seems that what stresses a person out might actually be what another person is comfortable with.
Nevertheless, the reason you are stressed can be limited to:
As a friend, child, sibling, or what have you, there are expectations of you during the festive seasons, giving of gifts, for instance. As simple as that may be, trying to figure out the best gifts to give, especially during important events, can be tasking.
What do they need? What do they like? What don’t they have?
Getting answers to these questions and then trying to get these gifts during holidays, especially Christmas, is overwhelming for many people. Sometimes you get stuck; other times, your orders are out of stock, etc.
Here is a list of Holiday gift ideas I prepared for you, with discounts, to make your holiday shopping smoother. CLICK HERE
• Financial problems
Yikes! Oh money, where art thou?! Haha. Financial problem is a major stressor for everyone. Those who don’t have the money want to have and those who have want more! The truth is that it takes its toll more on those who don’t. Imagine being on the brink of bankruptcy when everyone else is bubbly about the holidays, even the most put-together person would lose their cool!
- Errands and cleaning up
I don’t know who made it a rule to do full-house cleanups during the Christmas season, but somehow it began as a tradition, and obviously, it is stressful! It’s during these times, and other holiday seasons we clean the louvers, fan blades, and arrange the kitchen store. Aside from these, we also have the regular market trips, cooking different dishes for visitors, washing plates, and much more. These activities stress us to the maximum! If you don’t find time to relax, you can ultimately break down.
- Demanding/Stressful jobs
It’s not surprising that many people with stressful jobs have health-related issues like anxiety disorders, PTSD, high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, and so on. And this gets worse around the holidays as you want to do your best to make enough money eventually overworking, which affects your body somehow.
- Social expectations
Now, this might not apply to everyone, but if you’re an introvert (of any type), then this is for you.
As an introvert, trying to maintain a certain level of social energy can be extremely stressful. The holiday season means many visitors, friends, and social events where you have to smile, have small talks and laugh.
This might seem not to be a big deal, but for introverts, it is.
It takes a lot of effort for introverts to appear in social gatherings and engage to a certain expected level, except they are around close friends and family. So, if you see a person attempting to engage during this season, don’t be so quick to conclude, they might just be introverted.
The stress of completing the syllabus, trying to fit in revision classes, and covering courses can take its toll on both students and professors. Professors get stressed about marking several scripts and meeting up with deadlines and all, while students stress about reading and passing in flying colors, having an excellent report to show once at home, and preparing for the holidays simultaneously.
- Health conditions
Going to the doctor and discovering you have cancer or diabetes or any of these bone-crushing illnesses when most people are celebrating either Easter or Thanksgiving can also be a major stressor. Even a headache around the holidays is a fun crusher. And it is ridiculously stressful when it seems your body is exposed to an illness it can’t handle and your mind can’t fathom.
What is Holiday Stress?
Holiday stress, as the name implies, is stress accompanied with holiday seasons. As mentioned, holiday stress is particularly associated with expectations from family, friends, work, finance, and so much more. Holiday stress doesn’t care about any age group, and shockingly, children also get stressed as well.
For instance, Samuel has a group of friends who during every holiday go on vacation with their families, but Samuel is from a family that can barely afford basic daily necessities. Every time the holidays get closer, Samuel’s little heart beats faster, and he worries a lot leading to a constant feeling of sickness.
Samuel’s feelings of heart beating faster and sickness are examples of holiday stress.
Symptoms of Holiday Stress
The symptoms of holiday-related stress could range from physical and emotional symptoms to a change in behavior and reasoning. These symptoms are numerous and can vary based on each person.
Symptoms of holiday stress include but not restricted to the following:
- Short-sightedness/rigid point of view.
- Inability to concentrate.
- Short attention span/forgetfulness.
- Frequent worrying and anxiety.
- Panic attacks.
- Angry outburst.
- Frequent mood swings.
- Irrational reactions.
- Loneliness and isolation.
- Withdrawal symptoms.
- Drugs and alcohol.
- Anxiety disorders.
- Frequent headaches.
- Chest/back pain.
- High blood pressure.
- Overeating or under-eating… and so on
Effect of holiday stress
The way a person would react to a dangerous situation is also the same way the person would react when stressed. What happens when you’re stressed, regardless of the stressor, is related to what happens when you face a dangerous situation; for example, being chased by a bear.
- Your heart beats faster
- Your muscles are hunched up
- Your lungs work faster
- Your digestion slows down
- Your mind plays different scenarios at the same time!
What makes stress more dangerous is that contrary to a fight-or-flight response, you can be stressed throughout a day or even for weeks! So, imagine your body going through the above for a continuous number of days; it’s dangerous!
Your heart beating faster than normal can cause your blood pressure to shoot up; it can also cause dizziness and nausea. Your digestion slowing down can result in indigestion and even loss of appetite… the list is endless.
Coping with Holiday Stress
Managing holiday stress can be hard, especially when the stressor is ever-present, and people around you either add to the stressor or aren’t knowledgeable about how stressed you are. It now boils down to how fast you can get yourself out of this dilemma without crashing or losing a limb, figuratively, haha!
My first advice,
- DO NOT let anyone/anything take away your patience. Anything/anyone that can take away your patience or your level of composure might push you to the point of intense anger, and instability, which like a domino effect will start a cycle of stress, holiday-induced or otherwise.
- Keep whatever makes you happy closer. For me, that means meditation, listening to good songs, and finding reasons to laugh. As long as those aren’t out of the equation, I can manage to reduce my stress levels. So, find your mini cheerful place and keep it close, even if you are worried about how to spend Christmas or wondering where to spend Christmas.
- Read, listen, or watch motivational pieces. I know motivational pieces can be cheesy half of the time, but a quick reminder that even though your life seems like a mess right now, all things are working together for your good is enough to keep you sane about your family or personal expectations during the holidays.
- Budget! Budget!! Budget!!! I was talking to my friend yesterday who wanted to hang out this holiday season, and we got talking about the importance of budgeting to avoid tears after the holidays or some unnecessary worries about finances. I know you want to have the most fun during the holidays, but doing all things in moderation is still a virtue, and budgeting will separate you from the crowd who laments after the holidays.
- It’s YOU first, my love. One expectation that stresses us out during the holidays is family or friends asking questions like “Who are you dating now?” “Why do you look so skinny/fat?” “Do you now have a job?” “What’s your plan after the holidays?” “When are you doing this or that?” These questions can stress even the strongest of us, but whatever they throw at you, remember point 1, and don’t let anyone make you lose your cool. It’s your comfort, sanity, and happiness first, then every other person can follow.
One of the scariest things about holiday stress is the possibility of depression. The absence of the ability to manage the stress, coupled with the presence of the stressor, can begin an episode of depression for you. And, if care isn’t taken, it might lead to heart problems, which when ignored can lead to death.
You didn’t think it was that serious, did you?
And speaking the layman’s language, depression is the absence of the things that give you joy. So, as much as it lies in your power, manage the stress associated with the holidays, especially now that Christmas and New Year are fast approaching.
Also, don’t forget point number 2 from my advice above.
For more on Holiday Stress management, CLICK HERE
Contrary to popular opinion, Caucasians or people living abroad aren’t the only ones faced with holiday stress. Neither is holiday stress a respecter of place, age, or gender, so take your health seriously, watch out for the triggers, and learn to plan.
With Christmas at the corner, and New Year running after it, I wish you a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year in Advance. DON’T STRESS!