Make it Epic

Take steps necessary to squeeze stress out of season

By Barbara Pierce

Let’s get real. The holidays aren’t all mistletoe, twinkling lights and cheer. For many of us, this is the most stressful time of the year — pressure to spend money, then even more, dealing with difficult family members, gifts to buy, and maybe feelings of loneliness or grief.

We’re all hit with a set of assumptions and expectations this time of year — the expectation that we should be full of joy.

We may love the holidays but we’re stressed out, overwhelmed.

Some suggestions on how to take charge and make it work better for you:

— Get support: Stay in touch with the people in your life. Talk about what’s going on for you, or just hang out.

“It’s important to talk to people who understand you,” said Tiffany Blaschak of Rome, president of the Mom’s Club of Oneida County. The club gets together a few times each month, sometimes with children, sometimes just moms.

“We help mothers in all stages of life — newborns, teens, or adults. We support each other, discuss, anybody who needs to talk, can talk. We have a great time together,” she said.

“Our ‘Monthly Mingles’ are always open to the public. Anyone can show up to meet some moms and get more information. There are toys for the children to play with,” she added.

The club meets at the First Presbyterian Church of Rome.

For more information, see their Facebook page MOMS Club of Oneida County NY.

— Handle the things that will be stressful early on: Holiday planning is hectic, so get stuff done early. Refrain from going over the top and be realistic about which tasks and obligations are possible and which are not.

— It’s OK to say no to some invitations. Probably not the office party, but say no to the ones you’re not thrilled to go to. Don’t be apologetic about saying no. And you don’t have to go into lengthy explanations about why you’re saying no. Just say, “I’m so sorry. There’s somewhere else I have to be.” It’s perfectly fine if the somewhere else is in a bubble bath or curled up on the couch.

— Choose to believe that everything will go well. If you believe the office party is going to be boring, and you really don’t want to go, it probably will be boring. Instead, think instead that it will be a lot of fun. Think positively, and it will be so much more joyous for you.

— Watch that credit card: You might even put it away it for the next few weeks and pay cash only. A number of studies have indicated that people tend to spend more when using a credit card. They found shoppers spend up to 100% more when using a credit card to pay instead of cash.

Some things priceless

It’s the things you do with people and the way you are with people that matter the most, not how much you spend on them. You can’t buy happiness with a gift; you can’t make people like you with a gift.

— Do everyone in your life a massive favor and suggest they curb their gift expectations. After all, you may already have everything you want, and you will be avoiding the build-up of clutter and stuff you really didn’t want.

— If you must give a gift and you are uncertain about what to buy for whom, then give a gift voucher. Avoid the extra stress of trying to figure out what would bring them the most delight.

— Accept your relatives just as they are. We all have family members we wish we didn’t have to have in our lives. They aren’t really being difficult or acting weird on purpose. They have no idea of what they are doing; or, if they do, they have no idea of how to be any different. Just limit your time with them and ignore their eccentricities.

If the conversation becomes tense, step away. Recognize the other person has issues. Don’t take it personally.

— Be aware: Remember that it’s normal to not always feel jolly during this time of year, and that’s OK. If you’re feeling particularly depressed, talk to someone.

— Chill out: Stop worrying about every little detail. Trying to be perfect is hard. Those pictures in the magazines are staged; you can’t recreate it. Don’t even try.

— Get enough sleep and exercise: Both can cut down on stress, and will help you feel healthy and have less guilt about all the parties and dinners.

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