The holidays are a time of magic—twinkling lights, giddy children, gatherings with family and friends. Except sometimes that magic (and everything it takes to pull it off) takes a toll in the form of stress, and that’s something on nobody’s holiday wish list. While holiday stress can hit anyone, many studies suggest that it hits women harder than most.
To help avoid the stress and strain of the season, take a little time to think about what is most important to you about the holidays and stay focused on those plans and activities.
A useful tool, is the wellness wheel, which represents every aspect of physical and mental health, including spiritual, emotional, intellectual, financial, environmental, social and physical needs. If any one of these areas is neglected, you could be in danger of finding yourself out of balance.
During the holiday rush, it’s easy to ignore the physical — so be sure you are allowing time to focus on exercising and eating right.
Overspending on gifts will add to your financial stress. Make a realistic budget and stick to it.
Find the connection between your intellectual and social wellness by playing some brain-stimulating games with your friends and family at your next get-together.
Keep the wellness wheel handy for “spot checks.” Looking at components of the wellness wheel, spending quality time with family and friends would effectively meet both your emotional and social needs. Or you may prefer to get your environmental and social needs met by volunteering or providing gifts for someone less fortunate.
Finally: Don’t expect perfection. Just because cooking an elaborate meal was your mother’s favorite tradition doesn’t mean it has to be yours. Even during the holidays, it’s OK to say no. If you focus on what is truly most important to you and your family during this special time, it’s easy to let the other distractions fade into the background.
Nicole Cirino, M.D. is the Director, Division of Women’s Mental Health and Wellness at OHSU. She was trained as a Reproductive Psychiatrist and has specialty experience working with mental health issues experienced exclusively by women across their reproductive life cycle.