‘Tis the Season to be … Stressed?

It’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of year. After what felt like an eternity of deathly heat in New Orleans, fall is finally here and it is no longer unbearable to be outdoors. Halloween whizzed past us. Now the holiday rush has commenced. Shops have elaborate decorations up, grocers display turkeys and all the trimmings, and certain coffee shops have pumpkin spice and everything nice and variations of peppermint everything. In all honestly I love it – indeed it is my favorite time of year. But truthfully, I am not prepared. I mean, in my mind, I kind of still think it is August.

Not all joy

Amidst all the surrounding merriment, the holidays can be one of the most stressful times of the year. Research done by various groups such as the American Psychological Association shows that a significant number of people experience extreme stress during the holiday season. Financial stress probably tops the list. Busier work schedules and the pressure to meet deadlines and “get everything done” are also instigating factors. Relationships and family dynamics are also a source of tension, particularly during the holidays. The holidays are also often the worst time of year for people who are sick or hospitalized. I remember a time when both of my parents were hospitalized during the Christmas season, and even worse they were at different hospitals. We couldn’t even all be together. It was not a joyful time of my life and I was tired of seeing all the merriment around me.

Festivities fatigue

Since having kids, I have fallen into this trap that we have to do every holiday-oriented event or activity out there. From visits to multiple different Santas (I mean, my kids think it’s the same guy!), to ‘Teddy Bear Teas’ to gingerbread house decorating, to holiday light shows – the entire month of December is booked full of these excursions. One time I booked tickets to the ‘Polar Express’ train ride in July … yes, July! Don’t get me wrong, we had a great time and all these activities were certainly memorable, at least to me. But is it all necessary? More importantly, why do I feel that if I don’t partake in any of these activities, I am subjecting my kids to a bad childhood? I know in my heart, that all my kids want is to spend quality time with us.

Do what makes you happy

Old habits are hard to break, and being the type A person that I am, I’m sure there will be moments of anxiety and stress this holiday season. But I am determined to have perspective and above all, be grateful. There is nothing more important than a healthy happy family, holiday or no holiday. So cheers to a relaxed holiday season! Lets keep calm now … because Mardi Gras is just around the corner …


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