Christmastime. It’s supposed to be the happiest time of the year. That’s what the iconic song tells us, anyway. But is it really? Are you really happier during the Christmas season than during any other time of year?
For some people, Christmas is most decidedly not the happiest time. Christmas can be a difficult time for many, particularly people that are alone, or that have suffered a significant loss recently. But for most of us, happily, the answer to that question is yes; Christmas is the happiest time of the year.
But that doesn’t mean that Christmas isn’t also the most stressful time of year.
Lots to Stress About…
Happiness and stress are not mutually exclusive. It’s certainly possible to be happy, to be enjoying life, and to be stressed-out to the max. And that’s especially true during Christmastime, when there’s plenty to be stressed about. Parties, shopping, financial strain, time pressures – these all take a toll during the Christmas season.
Financial stress, in particular, is a biggie. After all, who doesn’t feel the pressure to spend, spend, and spend in the traditional holiday gift-buying frenzy? Studies have indicated that more than half of the general population endures soaring stress levels during Christmas because of financial strain.
There’s a physical component to your Christmas stress, too. The parties and socializing that come with Christmas puts you into contact with more people – and right in the midst of cold and flu season. So you’re exposed to more potential bug-carriers during the holiday season.
Diets tend to go out the window, and exercise programs get ditched for the duration. And all the holiday activities leave you more fatigued than normal, and that lowers your immune system’s defenses, making you more susceptible to contracting an illness. It’s a vicious circle!
Tips for Battling Christmas Stress
Let’s be honest – it’s really not practical to hope for the elimination of all Christmas stress. Unless you decide to completely cast off the shackles of modern life and hermitize yourself on a desert isle, you’ll likely continue to be affected by the activities of the Christmas season.
But it’s certainly possible to reduce the amount of stress those activities generate. Here are a few tips for doing so:
- Budget. Yep, the b-word. But determining what you can reasonably afford to spend on your gift shopping can really help. Calculate the total amount that you can spend, divide that amount by the number of gifts you need to buy, and there you’ll have it: the amount that you can spend per person. Stick to that limit, and you’ll have cut way back on the amount of financial stress you’ll have to endure this season.
- Moderation. Yes, it’s easy to say, and not so easy to do. But try to go through the holiday season with a mindset of moderation. Sure, you’ll probably still overindulge here and there. But probably not as badly.
- Sleep. It’s important to keep up on your sleep. As much as possible, try to avoid late-night activities that keep you up way past your bedtime. And if you get an occasional chance to turn in early – grab it.
- Exercise. It seems counterintuitive, but keeping up with your exercise routine will actually boost your overall energy level, not drain it. So no matter how fatigued you may feel from holiday activities, don’t let that fatigue become an excuse for wimping out on your exercise routine.
‘Tis the Season…
For most of us, Christmas really is the happiest time of year. It really is the season to be jolly. But that doesn’t mean that Christmas time doesn’t come with its own unique set of stressors.
Do you remember an old gentleman by the name of Ebenezer Scrooge? As you may recall, he didn’t handle his own personal brand of Christmas stress particularly well. But he learned to handle those stresses more gracefully, and immeasurably increased his enjoyment of the holiday season.
Here’s hoping that each of us will do the same – without any prodding by pesky, nightmarish Christmas ghosts.