The holidays bring lots of joy but also can cause stress and anxiety. When the decorations start cropping up in stores, you may begin feeling the pressure of a subconscious clock ticking. Will it all get done?
Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy
Women, and moms in particular, often find themselves so overwhelmed that they can’t enjoy what should be a happy time full of special moments with family and friends.
Take care of yourself first and don’t neglect your sleep, nutrition and exercise. This will help make the time more enjoyable for everyone.
Because they are socialized to nurture, women often assume responsibility for all the extra tasks that surround the holidays, or the role may be thrust upon them by other family members, notes Cleveland Clinic psychiatrist and sleep disorders specialist Ketan Deoras, MD. This may be on top of already busy roles as mothers and in the workplace.
“Trying to balance all of these obligations likely will cause women to sacrifice sleep,” Dr. Deoras says. “As a result, they may become irritable and stressed, and even wind up sick.
“I like to use airplane safety as an analogy,” he continues. “Put your oxygen mask on first, then help your children. In this case, take care of yourself first and don’t neglect your sleep, nutrition and exercise. This will help make the time more enjoyable for everyone.”
But how do you do that and still carve out time for all the extras? Try these 7 tips:
- Think about what the holidays mean to you. What traditions and rituals do you really enjoy? It’s okay to re-evaluate traditions and let some go.
- Plan ahead. Figuring out your holiday roadmap and avoid taking detours or adding new stops along the way.
- Stick to a budget. Overspending is a major cause of stress.
- Set realistic expectations. The house doesn’t have to be perfectly clean or elaborately decorated. Simplify entertaining routines where you can.
- Ask for help. and accept it graciously, when offered.
- Make lists. It helps with time management and gives you a sense of accomplishment to cross things off.
- Set aside time for yourself. When stress is really high, even five minutes of deep breathing exercises can make a difference.
“It’s important to understand that stress is contagious,” Dr. Deoras adds. “Mom is the central figure here, and when she is stressed others will feed off her emotions and become stressed, too.”
Special situations also can cause difficulties. If you’re dealing with the recent loss of a loved one, Dr. Deoras says support groups are particularly valuable at this time of year. And, he suggests that changing your holiday routine may help. Or, if there is ongoing family tension, try to find common ground and set aside differences, at least temporarily.