This added stress can come out in many different ways. Some people respond to stress emotionally, either feeling anxiety, depression or anger and frustration. Others respond with a weakened immune system, getting sick more frequently (which is more of a danger during this season anyway, as people crowd indoors and swap germs in airports and malls). Others just power through and find themselves battling burnout by the end of the year.
As people try to cope with all these stressors, relatively few people take the time to learn new stress management practices; most just use their regular coping tactics, but to a greater degree. This is fine for people who normally cope with stress in a healthy way. For many people--people who do use some healthy coping techniques--also cope with stress in unhealthy ways, either with 'comfort food', a glass of wine, a shopping trip or something similar. These behaviors aren't the healthiest coping techniques to begin with, but they aren't generally as harmful as when they're taken to an extreme. Under increased pressure, mildly unhealthy coping becomes emotional overeating, excessive drinking, chain smoking, compulsive buying, and the like. And these responses to stress generally add more stress.
How does one deal?
First, finding some healthier ways to reduce stress can make quite a difference here because, when there is less stress to react to, unhealthy responses can diminish. Also, when healthy coping skills are substituted for unhealthy ones, it's easier to let go of unhealthy habits. Finally, after working harder at healthy stress management (which can include ideas mentioned in the resources below), if you still find yourself feeling overwhelmed with stress or coping in a way that causes problems in other areas of your life, it might be a good idea to talk to someone and find resources to help.
Holiday stress can be a bit daunting, but it can also be just the thing you need to cause you to reexamine your lifestyle and your reactions to stress, and create healthier habits for the coming year, and for your future. Here are some resources to help.
The following are tips for dealing with difficult people who are in your life, for better or for worse:
Time Required: Ongoing
Avoid discussing divisive and personal issues, like religion and politics, or other issues that tend to cause conflict. If the other person tries to engage you in a discussion that will probably become an argument, change the subject or leave the room.
In dealing with difficult people, don’t try to change the other person; you will only get into a power struggle, cause defensiveness, invite criticism, or otherwise make things worse. It also makes you a more difficult person to deal with.
Change your response to the other person; this is all you have the power to change. For example, don’t feel you need to accept abusive behavior. You can use assertive communication to draw boundaries when the other person chooses to treat you in an unacceptable way.
Remember that most relationship difficulties are due to a dynamic between two people rather than one person being unilaterally "bad." Here’s a list of things to avoid in dealing with conflict.
Try to look for the positive aspects of others, especially when dealing with family, and focus on them. The other person will feel more appreciated, and you will likely enjoy your time together more.
However, don’t pretend the other person’s negative traits don’t exist. Don’t tell your secrets to a gossip, rely on a flake, or look for affection from someone who isn’t able to give it. This is part of accepting them for who they are.
Get your needs met from others who are able to meet your needs. Tell your secrets to a trustworthy friend who's a good listener, or process your feelings through journaling, for example. Rely on people who have proven themselves to be trustworthy and supportive. This will help you and the other person by taking pressure off the relationship and removing a source of conflict.
Know when it’s time to distance yourself, and do so. If the other person can’t be around you without antagonizing you, minimizing contact may be key. If they’re continually abusive, it's best to cut ties and let them know why. Explain what needs to happen if there ever is to be a relationship, and let it go. (If the offending party is a boss or co-worker, you may consider switching jobs.)
Try not to place blame on yourself or the other person for the negative interactions. It may just be a case of your two personalities fitting poorly.
Remember that you don't have to be close with everyone; just being polite goes a long way toward getting along and appropriately dealing with difficult people.
Work to maintain a sense of humor -- difficulties will roll off your back much more easily. Shows like "The Office" and books like David Sedaris' Naked can help you see the humor in dealing with difficult people.
Be sure to cultivate other more positive relationships in your life to offset the negativity of dealing with difficult people.
More food. Better Food.Yes, with all the holiday parties and nice dinners with family, people are often presented with more opportunities to gorge themselves with really delicious (and often more fattening) food. More food is served socially this time of year, and there are also generally more sweets being passed around. This makes for more times when we have to 'be good', and we're bound to slip up a little extra.
More Emotional Stress.
So what's a body-conscious person to do? Obviously, you can't cancel the holidays!
The first step is to be aware of these triggers, and notice them before they catch you off guard again this month. Have a plan for parties (you can eat a little--not a lot--and try to throw in some extra exercise, for example), and watch your holiday stress levels. And follow regular guidelines for combatting emotional eating, of course.
Tools and Guidelines for Combatting Emotional Eating:
Take The Stress and Weight Gain TestStress can contribute to weight gain in several ways. If you're having trouble with your weight and wonder what role stress may be playing, or if you just want information and resources for healthy change, this is the quiz for you! The following 10 questions are each designed to help you assess a different aspect of your lifestyle to determine if you may benefit from some simple changes that can help you keep your weight under control when you're stressed. At the end of the quiz, you'll find resources that pertain to your specific situation.
What Causes Emotional Eating?Even if we know what we're supposed to be eating, there are additional factors that influence how much and what type of food we consume. One of these factors is stress, which is linked to increased emotional eating. Emotional eating has many causes. Learn about the main reasons--besides hunger--that stressed people eat, and find resources to stop emotional eating.
How To Stop Emotional EatingAs anyone who's watching their weight will tell you, hunger is just one of many reasons that people eat. If you're an emotional eater, you may find yourself eating to deal with uncomfortable emotions, using food as a reward when you're happy, and craving sweets or unhealthy snacks when stressed. This article can help you to cut down emotional eating and develop healthier eating habits--even when stressed!