Friday, October 29, 2010

They’re On the Way . . . Starting with Halloween . . . Ending January 2

The holidays. We love them, we hate them. We eat too much. We spend too much. We don’t have enough time. We have stress. We’re never ready. And then, all of a sudden, the holidays are over, and we’re let down, depressed, even more stressed—and many of us feel guilty. There’s no way to un-eat, un-drink or un-spend what we spent the previous two months eating, drinking and spending. Time for damage control.

Experts agree that pre- and post-holiday stress is a combination of many factors: unrealistic expectations, over-commercialization, financial constraints, and the demands of shopping, parties, family, house guests—and a little too much joy and cheer.

We experience stress in the form of headaches, overeating, difficulty sleeping, muscle tension, bloating and fatigue from too much fat or sugar—and the guilt that accompanies all of it. Stress is sometimes the result of just a little too much of everything, even the good times with family and friends.

But it’s not good. Did you know? . . .

  • 55 percent to 85 percent of all illnesses are thought to be stress related
  • 88 percent of all employees say they have a hard time juggling work and life
  • Stress costs American employers approximately $200 billion a year in absenteeism, lower productivity, health care and workers compensation costs
  • Between 75—90 percent of visits to primary care physicians are related to stress

If you recognize that the holidays can be responsible for increased stress levels, you’ve already started to address the problem. Take a deep breath—or a series of deep breaths. Make just a “little” plan to get you from one event, one day, one action to the next. A plan puts you in control of situations that seem out of control. Even the act of planning is productive. The reward is the follow-through.

None of us is immune, but all of us should be able to take steps to better manage holiday-related stress and stressors. Keep in mind, the holidays are about more than gifts and food. Yes, we’re celebrating, but take a minute and think about what you’re really celebrating. And, who you’re celebrating with—and why. What happens if we all act accordingly?

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