By Shari Phiel
Christmas around my house is usually fairly quiet. I generally travel to either a family member’s home or spend the holidays here with my mom. For the first time though, they’re coming here. And by they I mean several members of my immediately family (and one 3 pound dog) will be traveling from Florida and North Carolina to stay in my rather small house that doesn’t have nearly enough room for all of them.
For years I’ve seen reports and read articles about how stressful the holidays can be for many people. I guess I’ve usually been lucky enough to escape the more stressful elements. Not so this year. Thankfully, most of them will be spending a couple of days up in Vail hitting the slopes. At least it will give me a little bit of a break.
The last year has certainly been a bit stressful, what with rough-and-tumble economics, trillion dollar bailouts and soaring gas prices (who knows how long the current drop will last). When you add in the extra stress of family conflicts, high expectations and additional financial constraints, as horrible as it may be, it really comes as no surprise to find that rates for domestic abuse, suicide and child abuse climb during the holidays. Here are some tips for surviving the stress.
- Measure the merry: While it may be tempting to have yet another mug of Aunt Ida’s special recipe eggnog, remember that alcohol acts as a depressant, often enhancing or increasing emotional difficulties. Even moderate drinking significantly increases the risk of accident. According to the National Safety Council, even one drink has observable effects on visual acuity, coordination and judgment. That last thing anyone needs to remember this Christmas is an accident or traffic fatality.
- Waisting away: Just as you should avoid overindulging in alcohol, be as equally watchful of what you eat. The holidays often mean mountains of pies, cakes and other sweets, not to mention the holiday favorites like mashed potatoes loaded with butter, honey coated hams and other rich entrees. Just remember though that many of these foods can lead to a major sugar crash, migraines or affect your moods.
- Give it a rest: When things start to build up or get to you, make time for yourself and take a walk, call a friend, anything that will get you out of the moment and out of your head. Sometimes the best way to diffuse a hostile situation is by taking a breather.
- Acceptable behavior: Remember that no one is perfect, not even you (as hard as that may be to believe) so try to accept the imperfections of your family members. They’re just people and have the good points and bad points, just like everyone else.
- After all tomorrow is another day: Thankfully, the holidays don’t last forever. While it may seem unbearable now, remember it’s only for a finite period of time which will soon be all over. Try to focus on the good things about your family and the time will pass more quickly.
Wherever your holiday plans may take you this year, here’s wishing you a peaceful, happy and stress free Christmas and a very Happy New Year.