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November 2003, Holiday Stress & Diversity

By February 2, 2016 No Comments

Happy Holidays Simma,

Happy Holidays?! Perhaps it seems a little early to begin planning, but studies show that one of the biggest causes of holiday stress is a lack of time. As a stress management expert, Simma wants your holidays to be peaceful and positive. The November issue of the Lieberman Learning Letter deals with reducing holiday stress and appreciating diversity during the holidays. Read Simma’s fresh and functional ideas below.

Holiday Stress Hotspots: Manage Stress with Knowledge

There are four main causes of holiday stress: gift giving obligations, expenses, a lack of time, and unrealistic expectations about creating a perfect holiday. To reduce holiday stress, arm yourself with knowledge. Know the ins and outs of these top four holiday stress hotspots and follow these effective stress-reducing tips:

Holiday Stress Hotspot #1: Gifts

Make a list of everyone you need to buy gifts for.
Look for gifts you can buy for multiple people. Similarly, look for stores where you can buy many gifts for a lot of people.
Plan a few back-up gifts, generic gifts with blank cards for people you might forget or who unexpectedly give you a gift.
Focus on the point of gift giving: showing your appreciation for someone. Enjoy the process of finding them something they’ll like.
If you don’t like shopping, plan a single gift shopping day. Make this day sooner than later to avoid the holiday shopping craze.
Or, don’t go shopping. Thanks to the internet and catalogues, there is enough time to order gifts so you don’t have to leave your house or office.
Better yet, take off the whole month of December and go to the mountains where no one can call, email or page you.

Holiday Stress Hotspot #2: Holiday Expenses

Set a budget, and stick to it. Don’t buy gifts that you’ll spend the rest of the year trying to pay off.
Think of alternative ways to give gifts (set up a gift exchange, make some handmade gifts or foodstuffs).
Choose inexpensive ways of entertaining and enjoying. Have a potluck party instead of providing all the food yourself.
Do activities with family and friends that cost little or no money: go on walks, have a movie night instead of going to see the latest blockbuster together.
Give the gift of a phone call or note. Let the people you care about know how important they are to you with words, not expensive gifts. Most people need this type of nourishment in general and may need it even more during the holidays. It may be the best gift they get.

Holiday Stress Hotspot #3: A Lack of Time

Complete your gift shopping early. This will relieve you of one of the biggest time stresses during the holidays.
Refuse Invitations. You don’t have to go to every party you’re invited to. If party going becomes a chore or exhausting, step back and slow down the pace.
Take time for yourself. With so much emphasis on time with family and friends, many people feel guilty taking time for themselves. Take it. When you consciously plan to have alone time, it keeps you empowered and reduces possible feelings of melancholy during the holiday season. You will also be also be less overwhelmed by external stimuli.
Share the tasks. Don’t take on too much. View your to-do list as an opportunity to spend time with people. Share responsibilities and your tasks will take half as long and be more enjoyable.

Holiday Stress Hotspot #4: Anticipation and Expectations

Be realistic. Just because it’s the holidays, family issues will not suddenly disappear and everything will not be perfect.
Adjust your expectations. Expect a few bumps in the road at family events and gatherings and you’ll be better able to deal with them.
Relish Traditions. Focus on those little traditions that make evoke positive memories for the holidays: songs, events, rituals, etc. Consider creating new traditions if older ones are marred with mixed memories.

Appreciating Diversity During the Holidays:

It’s about more than just a simple “Happy Holidays” greeting card.

Guess who’s not celebrating Christmas this year? Millions of people in the US.

That’s right. Tens of millions of Americans don’t celebrate Christmas religiously, either as followers of non-Christian religions (Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, Jews) or as individuals with no religious affiliation. Because many stores tap into the cash value of Christmas with their plethora of Santas, ornaments, and Christmas fanfare at your nearby mall, we can easily overlook the depth of the diversity present in America during this season. In reality, many different events, both spiritual, religious, and tradition based, are being celebrated in many different ways during these times.

It used to be that being inclusive meant sending out PC “Happy Holidays” greeting cards and changing Christmas office parties to “Holiday parties.” Today, it’s about more than just changing labels and titles. It’s about using a time to be with friends and family to build understanding and awareness about others.

Three Ways to Build Your Awareness and Create an Inclusive Holiday Environment

Learn about other celebrations. Carve out some time from online shopping or a Holiday TV show to learn about another culture’s celebrations during this time. Watch a TV special on other celebrations, do a Google search on a holiday, or check out books at your local bookstore while gift shopping. Share your learning with others, and use it as a chance to expand the conversation at parties and at the dinner table.

Make no expectations. Realize that people celebrate a variety of holidays during this time of year, and some people choose to celebrate none. Be respectful of these differences by taking interest in other people’s traditions and making them feel welcome. Don’t be afraid to ask people what holidays they celebrate. Find out what they do during this time of the year that is special. Let it be an opportunity to learn about different cultures and religions and the traditions that accompany them.

Mark your calendar and your address book. If the calendar or PDA you use does not list holidays like Kwanzaa, Hanukah, Ramadan, and Diwali, find out the dates and record them as reminders. Many programs like Outlook allow users to add calendar dates for celebrations from different parts of the world automatically, making this task quick and effortless. Take a few minutes to mark your address book with the holidays that people celebrate. When writing holiday cards, recognize their holiday, and include a little hand-written note acknowledging their celebration.

Simma Lieberman

Author Simma Lieberman

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