According to a survey from the American Psychological Association, nearly half of all women in the United States experience heightened anxiety during the holidays, at great risk to the health of their minds and bodies.
To further emphasize the rigors of holiday stress, Women & Co., a service of Citi, found the top holiday headaches for women, in a 2013 poll of members of Citi’s Connect: Professional Women’s Network on LinkedIn. The results showed it wasn’t one particular thing that was the main cause of stress, but really the attempt to accomplish so much in a condensed period of time. Sound familiar?
Women are on a constant quest to have it all; during the holidays, this struggle seems to light up like a Christmas tree. But it doesn’t have to be that way, try a few simple ideas to lighten the load.
Book early and have a plan. Consider flying at off peak times or days. And make sure you have the best travel apps, including airline or other transit specific apps, so you get every delay notification.
Standing in line for security or feeling intruded on during a pat down? Jonathan Bricker, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Washington, suggests pausing for a moment to “remember why you’re flying.”
Buying presents sounds super fun, until you consider how much money it will cost, so set a budget early, comparison shop, and do your research. Shop at off peak hours (if possible) or online.
Take a look at who you’re buying gifts for and consider that you might be buying for people out of habit. Many extended families just buy gifts for the kids, do a fun secret Santa for the adults, or do a fun family experience like a nice meal out or a trip to a park. Try to have this conversation in the summer (next year, sorry) with likeminded relatives and with any luck, you’ll get everyone on board, save money and focus on making memories together.
We love parties! But, if you’re hosting, you have our sympathies. Planning can be super stressful, and the financial strain can be overwhelming.
Make it a little easier on yourself. Make a dinner party a potluck and assign each guest a dish or ask friends to bring a bottle of their favorite wine or the ingredients for a seasonal cocktail — drinks can be the most pricey part of a party. And remember, a kids party doesn’t have to be fancy — come up with a fun DIY activity like making reindeer masks out of brown paper bags and they’ll be entertained for hours.
The holiday season is known for something called weight creep (no surprise). It may seem unavoidable, but those one or two pounds now can have long term effects.
“Weight gain over the holidays is a large part of the typical weight gain that adults have over the years,” says Dr. Jack Yanovski, head of the Unit on Growth and Obesity at the National Institute of Health.
But it’s not impossible to stay healthy during the holidays. Here are a few suggestions:
1. Exercise: Not only will sticking to your regular exercise routine curb weight gain, but it acts as a natural de-stressor. Take a run and release those endorphins!
2. Drink water: If you feel hungry (especially if you’ve been eating all day), try drinking a glass of water first. Oftentimes, if we’re a little dehydrated — holiday foods and alcohol can do that to you — our bodies think we’re hungry.
3. Don’t go to a cocktail party hungry! Have a filling protein snack like a few slices of turkey or a handful of almonds so you don’t graze all night. And, for every cocktail or glass of wine you drink, have a glass of water. A hangover will only add to your stress, and excessive alcohol can leave you feeling bloated. Yuck.
The Holiday Card Photo
This one is always tough. Getting your family together to sit down (and still!) for a photo can be a real struggle. Try taking pictures during the year — they don’t have to be perfect — and creating a collage card on a site like Minted.
There’s nothing wrong with taking one year off to avoid the stress of a perfect holiday photo altogether. You’ll save money and avoid some major obsessing over what angle your arm is at.
Remember, the holiday season isn’t about who spends the most, it’s about spending quality time with the people you love. And that shouldn’t be stressful — even if getting to them is!