I would bet that every day until Christmas you will find a list or blog post about ways to reduce holiday stress. I just re-tweeted two today on twitter. I would just share someone else’s thoughts because it is all being covered in one or the other article. But, then as I sat here pondering the holidays and thinking
- Are the holidays stressful for me? Why?
- What do other people tell me causes them stress?
I came up with what I think is the cause of most of the stress, outside of money issues of course. And I don’t think I have seen it in other posts or top 10 lists, so I thought I would share it. Are you ready?
I think the biggest stressor that comes during holiday time is “NOT DECIDING”!
We are asked when we want to come to Thanksgiving with the in-laws. I’m not sure. If we go on Wednesday, I will be stressed and not ready for turkey day at my house. If we go Friday I won’t be able to hit the stores and get all of those great prices. The Christmas tree is delivered Saturday….but we are going to go to the in-laws for Thanksgiving, so why not just decide?
It would be nice to have a Christmas party for our bible study group. When should we have it? Do you think people will come on a weekend? They probably already have plans. If I just send out some dates now, it is still early enough. What if I send out a date and we get invited somewhere that we really need to go to…..
I saw this wonderful gadget on the internet. It is the perfect price for a holiday gift and I think it is something all of my nieces and nephews would like. It is before Thanksgiving though. What if it goes on sale in a week? What if one of them already has it? How will I pick a color for each…?
The Pile Up
And, the decisions continue to pile up one on top of the other. It is a day later…two days..going on a week. These decisions stay like a dull throbbing in the back of your mind. You start to resent people involved for putting you in this situation. You begin to snap with the kids when they ask to do yet one more thing…or for one more gift…. You ask everyone’s opinion about which you should do..
Why Don’t We Just Decide?
The funny thing is that if we would just decide much of the stress and worry would immediately go away. As a matter of fact, much of it wouldn’t come to begin with as you would avoid the PILE UP.
If a new invitation comes up that would be a more attractive option you have the choice of a.) graciously declining for good reason – you all already have plans. b) fitting in one more thing if you can swing it.
If a better gift idea arises you can a.) return the first one if you just have to have it b.) save the idea for next year c.) or just be glad you have already taken care of that gift and you don’t have to decide between them.
There is always much talk about setting boundaries, sticking to spending limits, only committing to a few meaningful things to do during the season. Boundaries can be very helpful as it provides structure for decisionmaking. Yet for some, boundaries make it even more difficult to decide. Since our options are limited, we want to really be sure it is the best decision. The whole boundary solution blows up in our face because we are now wound tight as a spring.
Take it as it Comes
My recommendation is to take things as they come. If it is something that you know you are going to do:
- Like go to the in-laws
- Buy your staff a gift
- Serve and help the needy
then just make a decision as it comes! You know it isn’t going to go away and time and more options only serve to complicate the situation and cause MORE STRESS.
If you have to make a decision to choose between two good things, then just decide quickly. Building up the stress will only result in the grumpiness and impulse decision-making and many times lead to resentment and overall dissatisfaction once the decision is made.
My Recommendation to Myself
This holiday season I am going to take away my highest stressor – INDECISION. I prayed first for God to help me make wise decisions this holiday season and to keep integrity in my decisions and committments. Now the plans are moving forward. I know I am going to my in-laws on Friday. Yay, a great meal I don’t have to cook and relaxing time with my family. Yes that means I can only shop from like 3 am till noon on Friday. (a blessing in disguise!) I have already purchased that niece and nephew gift and they were delivered straight to my door thanks to internet shopping. I have decided and communicated the events and get togethers that I am hosting. Now I have no choice but to just fill in around it.
Hopefully, this will be a much more relaxing holiday season. Plus, my husband will be so happy as he can’t stand the self-inflicted stress of me dragging out decisions for both him and me. Maybe he will reward me with a massage. Heck, since I am making the decisions here, I will just decide and schedule that massage!
What are your biggest holiday decisions and does procrastinating the decision hurt or help?
Roger Butner says
Right on, Sue! Thank you for sharing these wise insights. I can so relate, and I love your real-life delivery.