Snowflake Stress It’s that time of year again and you can feel it in your veins; the inevitable blood pressure boil over. Relax, because Dr. K’s got some tips to beat the Holiday stress. BY DR. KAREN SHERMAN
Don't let stress ruin the holidays.
The holiday season is around the corner and I'm already anticipating the annual fights that my husband and I have. Do you have any tips to quell the holiday stress?
Ahhh, the joys of entertaining. For some, playing host during the holidays is the pinnacle of the year. For others, making sure that you have seating for 15, or preparing for those non-RSVP types, can be daunting. As wonderful as the holiday season is, it’s also fraught with a great deal of stress. Among other things, there are so many extra things to attend to, not to mention the proverbial preparing for the many people that will come for dinner, the purchasing of gifts, and readying the house for out-of-town guests. All of these things require time. In this day and age, time is at a premium and schedules are hectic so it is understandable that you would feel pressured.
In our culture, though not always the case, the burden for handling these preparations falls on the woman in the relationship. And this is where the problems begin!
Most women have been raised to take on the role of caretaker, which ends up meaning that they don’t ask for help. To further complicate matters, they feel their husbands should realize some assistance is needed. "After all," I hear from my clients, "we’ve been together for so many years; he should know what I need." And just to add more fuel to the fire, when the husband doesn’t pick up the hint, there’s a real sense of displeasure that a wife will generally express in her non-verbal communication.
Another potential area of stress is the degree of expectation about everything being "just right." This expectation can be generated from either one of you.
There are several tips I can offer you that can be used all year round, but especially at this time of year:
Learn to ask for help. More and more research is coming in indicating that the brains of men and women are different. Men don’t pick up hints. You need to ask directly for what you want. Many men will be glad to help if they know what their women want.
It is a big mistake on the part of either partner to assume that your spouse should know what you need just because they are your partner. Being in a relationship doesn’t make you a mind reader. More importantly, it doesn’t mean your partner doesn’t care about you.
Learn to prioritize. Not everything has to get done right away. Do things gradually and delegate responsibilities.
Change your expectations. Things do not have to be perfect. Gatherings are more about getting together and enjoying one another—not about if the entire crystal matches.
If you are totally overwhelmed, be willing to let go of some of your usual standards—perhaps serve buffet-style rather than a sit-down dinner or use paper goods rather than china.
*Special tip for men*: When your wife is complaining that she’s stressed out, don’t just ignore her. Rather, offer some compassion or a hug —it will go a long way.
Of course, remember to take a few moments to do things to help you relax: deep breathing, muscle relaxation, taking a five minute break to have a cup of herbal tea. These will help rejuvenate you.
But most importantly, remember to enjoy the holiday and savor your good times. That’s what will help make life truly rich.
Karen Sherman, Ph.D., (www.drkarensherman.com) is a practicing psychologist in relationships and lifestyle issues for over 20 years. She offers teleseminars and is co-author of Marriage Magic! Find It! Make It Last.