It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Really. It is. If we recognize that the holidays bring the potential for stress and plan ahead, we can truly make them wonderful again. In our profession, we have stress coming at us from home, work associates, and clients. This year we have the added stress of the economic crisis.
Stress at home can be from changes in school schedules (how am I going to find a sitter for the two weeks that the kids are out school?), extended families (how am I going to visit my parents, my wife’s parents, grandparents, etc all in one day and a half?), and divided families (is my daughter supposed to be with me this holiday or with her other biological parent?). The list is actually too huge to consider: when will I have time to decorate the yard, when am I supposed to have time to go shopping, how can we afford everything on the Christmas list, the car won’t start, the windshield is covered in ice, how am I going to prepare a dinner for 25 people and find used riding lawn mowers for sale at the same time.
Stress from work associates: every employee wants to be off on the same day, they all have travel plans that can’t be changed, they all need extra hours for spending money but the revenue isn’t there to support extra hours, someone’s late because of the ice storm, someone’s child is sick, etc.
Stress from the clients: I need you to be open in the evenings and on the holidays if possible because I CAN’T afford to leave early or take a day off, I just lost my job so I really can’t afford that can you please help me out, if I pay for this then I won’t be able to buy any presents this year, can I pay you in two weeks, I need to be seen now because I’m going to be travelling for the next week, etc.
Depending on the day and your outlook it can all be very overwhelming. The main thing is to recognize that stress will occur and that disruptions will occur and to be realistic. Don’t commit yourself to becoming superman or superwoman. Don’t plan a dinner with four entrees, four desserts, and more sides than you can imagine to feed a group of 30 people. Keep it simple—everyone WILL understand and appreciate being able to visit. Let everyone know ahead of time that you might not be able to visit everyone on the same day, but will plan visits over a period of a few weeks.
Try to keep your routine as routine as possible e.g. same time to bed, same to get up, eat normal quantities, drink in moderation, etc. Schedule time to relax with a book or a bath or a game or whatever you need to relax.
Stay positive. Remind yourself that it’s the time for giving and sharing. Think about a time that someone helped you. Don’t dwell on a time that you felt you needed help and had a hard time finding it. Think about a time that you helped someone and they truly appreciated it. Reach out into the community and help someone in need. It really is the most wonderful time of the year.