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  • Holiday Stressors

    Holidays are coming – Am I Looking Forward to it?

    When we think of holidays, two thoughts come immediately to mind: Nice – Bad.

    It is nice learning that the year is ending, celebrations are around the corner but sometimes is bad to think about all the stress that comes with the holiday.

    First, it is necessary to think about how/where/with who we want to celebrate the event.

    The stress of the holiday is mostly played over a nice meal.

    There are so many stressors, from annoyance from family and in-laws to preparation of the meal/event, to surviving the event afterward.

    Managing the Family Stressors

    Do you remember past holidays where family members got in each other’s’ nerves and flares sparkled? Yep – when we don’t live with that person, we forget those small habits that overtime gets in our nerves. The uncle who snores too loud, the aunt who tells inappropriate jokes, the sibling who re-live their rivalry, the family member who gets drunk and annoying.

    How to resolve such stressors?

    • If possible, have limited time with them. Plan to stay in a hotel, instead of in a cramped room – blame on your back/snoring/spouse, whatever can be true to you.
    • If you cannot stay away from them, then remind yourself that the situation is temporary and you won’t be able to change anyone’s behaviors, or their personalities. Just go with the flow – or excuse yourself for a walk or a shower when someone is annoying you.
    • If they are coming to your place, do not forget to set boundaries of how long you expect the visitors to stay. Let that be clear to all guests if this is a concern.

    Managing Meal Stressors

    Whenever someone is hosting a holiday event, it is always stressful. After all, people have their own thoughts on being on time and how they can collaborate for the event. Some will want your company for more time than others. They may come earlier that the invitation stated, or never live your house at the end of the night when you are super exhausted.  How about those who do not bring the dish they signed up for, or bring something that is not the “traditional” dish? How about the ones who bring the salad or main dish after the whole meal has passed?


    How to deal with guests?

    Know their habits

    The early people can be signed up to bring appetizers and salads. Also use them to help with the guests, accommodating coats, purses, seating, drinks, etc.  Punctual people can bring the main dishes. And late people can bring deserts or more drinks. Another alternative is to tell the “late” people to come 1 hour (or 2!) before the other guests arrive. So, they won’t be as late.

    Managing the Guests

    Know who they are

    Annoying people will be annoying, the ones that drink will be drinking, the loud people will be loud, and the shy people will not connect. Try to give a lit bit of attention to all of them, and think beforehand who can you pair up with. You can help to introduce something special about what that person is doing/has done, or talk about similar interests (ie. traveling, cooking, shopping, etc.) so their conversation may flow.

    After the Holiday

    • When you set boundaries, it may become easier for you to not overextend yourself. There’s always helpful hands trying to organize the mess. Let them help you some.
    • Another way to deal with the after-event stressors is to plan a housecleaning visit the day after. Plan for the afternoon, if possible, so you can rest some in the morning. You can also “hire” your children to do the job – but please do not expect professional/adult-level results.

    The best thing about holidays is that is a chance to connect with friends and family members, even the ones that annoy us. They are a good reminder of where we come from, our connections, and where we are going (or avoiding to go).

    Do not forget to always employ mindfulness – being on the here and now, without judgment, and not bringing the past – is a great way to start.

    Enjoy your holiday – do some breathing exercises as often as you need, and this holiday event may turn out to be better than expected.


    Dr. Rosana Marzullo-Dove has practices in Tampa and Clearwater.

    Call (813) 613-8587 if you are experiencing stressors and want her help.