Tips for Reducing Holiday Stress
by Susan Newman, Ph.D.
you spend so much time keeping others-friends, family, co-workers
and bosses-happy that you have little time or energy left over for
yourself? Here's how to transform how you think about requests
some people the holidays are a time for friends, family, and relaxation,
but for many, even most, the pressure to get everything done and
be merry is just too much. . Bickering relatives, end-of-year office
demands, feuding friends and over-stimulated children add their
own strong tugs on your sanity, patience and already overflowing
To-Do list. It's enough to make anyone want to hibernate until spring.
There is an easy way to sidestep holiday stress and feel rested
and joyous as you begin the New Year. The solution lies in one simple
put into action, the power of "no" is limitless. It eliminates
the need to push yourself to the max or to spend the holidays somewhere
other than where you want to be. But even as you become more aware
of your dwindling time and resources, refusing requests can seem
an impossible task. Here are ten tips taken from The Book of No
to ease the awkwardness and difficulty of refusing others; they
will help you cope with the season's demands (and way beyond). With
these in mind, you'll able to say "no" and mean it, and
along the way you'll find your "holiday blues" melting
Tips for Doing What YOU Want this Holiday Season
When approached with a request, pause and briefly analyze what is
really being asked of you.
sure you fully understand the magnitude of the job before you blurt
I'll organize the bake sale, collect money for
the holiday party, make the costumes for the school play, etc. etc.
etc." By realizing that you always have a choice in what you
decide to say "yes" or "no" to you may be able
to eliminate uncontrollable "yeses."
Allow other people in your life to take control. You don't have
to do everything alone.
the need to "run" things to be sure they turn out the
way you like them relieves much of the pressure you put on yourself.
Maybe it's actually true that some things won't turn out as well
as if you did them yourself, but they will be done, and you won't
be the one stressing and frantic about them.
If you decide to say "yes" to something, whether it is
helping a friend shop for gifts or decorating for the News Year's
Eve party, be very specific about the amount of time you have to
devote to the task.
to be protective of your time-it's a valuable commodity that you
have in limited supply. When you say "yes" continually
to others, you say "no" to yourself and relegate yourself
to second position, fourth, or even last. There is nothing wrong
with taking time for you during the holiday season.
Don't be wishy-washy about decisions that involve changes to expected
strong when changing a tradition. People are not mind readers. No
one knows that you object unless you say so. There is nothing wrong
with wanting to eat Christmas dinner at another family member's
house this year instead of yours or declining to host the annual
New Year's Day party. Bowing out and breaking a long standing tradition
will force someone else to take over, if he or she feels strongly
about its preservation. If not, then so be it
you're no longer
How you decide to celebrate a holiday needs no explanation.
can say "no" to parties, postpone your answer to an invitation,
or say you're staying in. You are entitled to your preferences and
to act on them.
Try repeating an affirmation to help you stick to your decisions.
something like "I will not give in, I will not give in,"
to remind yourself that you deserve to be in control of your time
and to dispense it as you wish. When people take advantage of you,
the most serious repercussion is the irritation you feel with yourself
for making yourself available to others 24/7. By creating an affirmation,
you are giving yourself the verbal support you need to stick to
Your tone of voice and body language are far more influential in
sending your "no" message than the actual words.
word "no" said politely is enough to convey your message.
The less excuses you make, the stronger the message. Just remember
to say "no" with conviction. Look the person in the eye
to let him or her know that you mean it and appeals and pressure
Try altering a request to make it, or part of it, more manageable.
a person asks you for help decorating because you have a knack for
it, and you want to help, but you don't want to spend your entire
day there; don't be afraid to tell them you will get them started
on the project and they can finish on their own. Most people will
be appreciative for any help you are willing to provide.
Don't fret over the consequences of your "no."
you've handled the situation calmly, the backlash will be absent
or insignificant. Remember: in general, people don't think about
you as much as you worry about what they think. While you're feeling
guilty, they are busy finding someone else to do the job.
Most importantly, you can say "no" and still remain a
caring, committed person.
people are understanding and forgiving, especially during the holidays.
And, if they're not, do you really want them in your life? Remind
yourself daily that "no" is liberating, and to say it
is your right.
have other rights you will want to exercise such as making your
feelings and desires known, establishing and guarding your boundaries,
and keeping your needs for rest, exercise, and balanced meals in
the forefront of all you do
and don't do. The word "NO"
is the only stress-buster you'll need this year.
more information on why you agree too often and how to stop the
habit, go to: www.thebookofno.com
Book of No: 250 Ways to Say It-and Mean It
and Stop People-Pleasing Forever
Newman, Ph.D., is a social psychologist and author of The Book of
NO: 250 Ways to Say It--and Mean It and Stop People-pleasing Forever
(McGraw-Hill, Dec. 2005), Nobody's Baby Now: Reinventing Your Adult
Relationship with Your Mother and Father (Walker), Parenting an
Only Child, The Joys and Challenges of Raising Your One and Only
(Broadway/Doubleday), and Little Things Long Remembered: Making
Your Children Feel Special Every Day (Random House/Crown), among
others. See: www.susannewmanphd.com