The holidays are a time for joy and celebration, but for many people they can also be a time of stress and anxiety. Many studies show that women report feeling significantly more stressed than men during the holiday season, and it’s no wonder why. Gift shopping, baking, decorating the house, it’s a lot to manage. And being a business owner and developing special offers and campaigns and gift giving for clients and employees, you might not feel like it’s the happiest time of the year.
Okay, no one is surprised to hear women shoulder the stress of the season. Whether you’re the initiator in your family or find yourself with a partner that just doesn’t have the inclination to celebrate, it’s common for us to handle the holiday prep. When you’re already busy, it might seem like no big deal to add a few more tasks to your to-do list, until you’re burnt out.
Women Feel More Stressed: It’s Not Just Tradition
This isn’t just a matter of tradition. Research shows that women are more likely than men to take on domestic tasks, even when both partners work. There are a number of possible explanations for this gender discrepancy. For one thing, women are often socialized from an early age to be caregivers and homemakers. In addition, women are more likely than men to have interruptions in their careers due to child rearing. So naturally, these responsibilities fall to women even when they reenter the workforce.
A survey from Mount Sinai Hospital on Long Island revealed that women under the age of 50 tend to be the most stressed compared to other demographics as the holidays approach. This season encourages overscheduling, overindulging and overspending, and we don’t always cope well. Although 61% of the women surveyed in the study use healthy habits like exercise to cope, a concerning 20% rely on drugs or alcohol to relieve the pressure.
Women Feel More Stressed: You’re Not Alone
A study by the American Psychological Association found that women experience a greater spike in stress levels during the holidays than men. When asked if their stress levels were higher than normal over the holidays, 44% of women said yes. That’s compared to just 31% of men. And when asked if they felt able to relax over the holidays, only 27% of women said yes. So if you are feeling stressed out this holiday season, you’re not alone.
Here are some strategies you can put into place now:
- One way to reduce stress is to set a budget for your personal and professional holiday expenses and stick to it. This will help to avoid overspending and feeling overwhelmed by bills that show up just as we’re starting to celebrate a new year.
- Ask your friends and family for help. Whether it’s making a dish for the potluck or helping with Christmas shopping, delegating some of the tasks can help you to feel more relaxed. Delegate work-related tasks to your team. It always seems like it will take longer to ask for help than just doing it yourself – this is a trap. Ask for help. They can order holiday cards or research client gifts, and this might be the perfect excuse to try out a new personal assistant on a part-time or need-based arrangement.
- Remember that self-care is always vital, but it’s especially critical during the holidays. This can take many shapes. For example, make time for exercise to reduce anxiety and improve sleep. It also helps to release endorphins which have mood-boosting effects, and it can give you a much needed break from the hustle and bustle of the holidays.
- Don’t forget meditation or deep breathing exercises. These practices can help you to focus on the present moment and let go of worries and fears. Get outside and hike, grab drinks with a friend, or schedule an afternoon out of office. This is the time to hold boundaries and do the things that make you happy.
- Try streamlining your holidays this year. Take a close look at that to-do list and identify any tasks that can be eliminated. You may need to adjust your expectations and scale back on holiday activities and get togethers. This is a great opportunity to think about what the holidays really mean to you and how you want to experience them.
- Another way to lower stress levels during the holidays is to start a gratitude journal. Journaling helps us to focus on all the little things we feel thankful for each day. Instead of focusing on what we don’t have or what we still need to do, we can take a moment to appreciate all the good things in life. By focusing on the positive, we can put the holiday rush into perspective and remember what the season is really about.
- Batch your tasks. Rather than making separate trips to the grocery store for baking ingredients, the liquor store for wine, the department store for that last-minute gift, make a list and group these tests together to help you save some time and your sanity. Better yet, order these items to be delivered to your home or office and skip the trip altogether.
Women Feel More Stressed: Put Yourself First
The holidays are a wonderful time of year, but they can also be a major source of stress. You might feel a lot of pressure to get it right for your kids, your partner, your employees, and clients. We all have that Pinterest perfect idea in our heads about how the holidays should look and feel, and that can easily lead to overwhelm, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Use these tips to take control and put yourself first.
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