Handling holiday Stress- Ten Tips for Singles

Here we go again. Presents to buy, work to finish up, cards to write, plans to make, events and parties to attend; and all those things we "must do" because we've always done them.

Does this sound familiar? Do you go to sleep at night with the feeling that you are hopelessly behind schedule, yet have made good use (overuse) of your time? Do you experience even a small measure of dread as you approach this season, and a large measure of relief when it's all over? Most importantly, are you savoring any of the lovely sights, sounds, smells and feelings that are unique to this time of year; or are you just too tired and rushed to even notice? If this describes you, you are probably suffering from holiday stress. Compounding this is the widely held belief that this is just the way it has to be, and that your task is to just get through it.

The following tips are designed to give you a new perspective on this all too common problem. Read on, and see if you can make some small behavior changes/additions that could result in a lot less stress and a lot more enjoyment in the weeks ahead.

1. If you have a fairly sizable family/extended family to shop for, your level of monetary, time and emotional stress can be very high. Therefore, consider approaching your family about your present tradition of gift exchanging. Growing in popularity is the system of drawing one name (of one family member) to buy a nice gift for. Everyone in the family receives one gift that another member had the time (and budget) to choose well. If your family is resistant, you could opt for two gifts per person, or some other compromise.

2. Try a new tradition of having a shopping day with friends (or family). Draw up your list, head for a nice mall or town center with great little shops (even better) and make it a day of shopping, lunch and lattes. You could finish with a late afternoon movie!

3. Consider on-line shopping. This is a great way to save time and get free gift-wrapping without the lines and headaches. It also allows more time for you to choose just the right gift for each person. You can have them mailed to you or sent to whatever address they will eventually be going to.

4. If you send cards, consider after Christmas cards or New Year's cards. Why rush to send them before Christmas? The folks who receive them will have more time to focus on your news after Christmas, and may even find it more fun to receive something in the mail during the quiet "let down" period that follows each holiday.

5. Try to plan a few extra days off right before or during the December-January holidays. Even one extra day could be useful to pack, get an early start on travel, finish up last minute chores or errands, or catch up on sleep and R&R. We often mistakenly assume we will feel more rushed and behind if we take down time- the reverse is actually what occurs.

6. Do an inventory of your must-dos. After you make your list, go through each one and ask yourself is this activity really gives you pleasure or serves your needs or the needs of a loved one. Cross off any that don't answer yes to the above question. Make sure you are not doing things out of rote because that's the way it has always been. If you have one or two you are unsure of, put them at the end of your list of priorities. This way, you can get to them if you have time after you have done the things you know will be of value to you.

7. Consider having a cleaning service come in at least once during the next month. Imagine the extra time (and lowered stress) you would have if someone else cleaned your bathroom and kitchen, washed your floors, dusted your furniture, etc. What a nice gift to give yourself!

8. Arrange to have a massage, facial, manicure or other spa treatment. These are wonderful stress relievers. They are especially nice late in the day at the end of a hectic few days. Afterwards, you can go out for a quiet meal or go home and get some things done and then get a restful night's sleep.

9. Make sure you are doing some kind of regular exercise. This should be part of your life 52 weeks of the year. However, during high stress periods, it is more important. It is a fact that exercise increases energy and positive self-esteem and decreases depression. It is also a way to improve sleep and keep your weight in check.

10. Try to get some extra sleep. You will probably have to begin decompressing a little sooner than usual on those nights. Don't eat dinner too late, or eat anything too heavy. Avoid alcohol those nights. Get ready for bed and lie down with a good book or in front of a favorite show. If you exercised earlier, this will help you to be more relaxed and ready to sleep. Even one hour three times a week will make a difference in your mood and energy level.

Read these suggestions over carefully and consider which ones might be useful to you. After you have begun to implement them; take a deep breath, sit back, and drink in some of the lovely sights, sounds and smells of this cherished season.

Want to read other articles on this subject?

"Tips for Singles on Surviving (and enjoying) the Holidays"
List of more "Holiday help for Singles" articles

"Going Solo on Valentine's Day when you are Single"


Toni Coleman, LCSW
Phone: 703-847-1768


Copyright 2008 Antoinette Coleman. All rights reserved.

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