Feeling the Holiday Pressure Already?

By: Judith K. Volkar, M.D. • Posted on November 29, 2011

Feeling the Holiday Pressure Already?

As much as I love the holiday season, when Black Friday rolls around, I feel like a gong has sounded. I now have only 30 days to recreate the perfect Norman Rockwell holiday. Somehow, despite working full-time, I need to bake even more cookies than last year, find unique presents that everyone will adore and decorate the house in a manner that Martha Stewart would approve. In my quest for perfection, I stress myself so much that I miss the joy of the little moments.

I know that I am not the only one who tortures themselves this way. A survey showed that holiday stress, on top of already disproportionately high stress levels in women year-round, makes it hard for women to relax. This increases the likelihood that they will turn to unhealthy behaviors like using food to deal with stress (41 percent) or drinking alcohol (28 percent). Forty-four percent of women (44 percent) are more likely than men (31 percent) to report an increase of stress during the holiday season, citing the following as primary stressors:

  • Lack of time (69 percent versus 63 percent)
  • Lack of money (69 percent versus 55 percent)
  • Pressure to give or get gifts (51 percent versus 42 percent)

I don't have any great words of wisdom here. Just a gentle reminder to be as forgiving of yourself as you are toward others. Most of all, enjoy the people in your life. A meaningful relationship is the best gift you can give yourself and others. As the pop culture book says, "Don't sweat the small stuff." The only sweating we should be doing is with exercise!

-Judith K Volkar, M.D.

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