Stress and the Holidays


It isn’t enough that we may suffer from unwanted stress on a daily basis but then we need to produce even more during the Holiday Season. This goes to prove that apart from the stressful situations or events over which we have no control that beleaguer us for the eleven months of the year preceding, we can and do produce our own stress as well. Technically, the stress that we invite into our lives is called eustress which is different from distress which is unwanted and should be avoided.

There are gifts to buy and for whom, wrapping them, parties to give and attend, menus to plan and create, cards with special notes to sign and send and last minute shopping for those people whom we forgot to add to our gift list like Aunt Betty and Uncle Ted who we haven’t seen in three years. It is overwhelming and potentially harmful but, after all, these are the Holidays and much of what needs to be done in the spirit of giving is supposed to be fun. It’s heart warming to give to others if only because of the joy it brings to them. And then there are the children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews. Well, the Holidays are really all about them, aren’t they? We need to make sure that they get what they ask for at this very special time of the year and, if they are out of town, that their gifts are delivered in a timely manner. We may end up rushing around to the point that we may forget where we’re supposed to be and do at times.

Probably, the best way to go about taking a look at the toll that needs to be paid is to explore the motivation that underlies our giving at this time of year. Please note that I used the words “in the spirit of giving” to denote the attitude with which we believe that we are imbued this time of year. For many people, it really isn’t all that simple. In fact, much of the hurry sickness activity that many experience is based on feelings of guilt and not really that altruistic spirit into which we wrap our eustress. In other words, we’re really kidding ourselves into believing that we are doing a good thing by turning ourselves inside-out to provide for others. Too often, it’s not the spirit of giving but the fear of omission that we might make a mistake if we don’t include everyone in our holiday lunacy.

And then aren’t we supposed to share with others during these festive times? Sharing is not giving. Sharing involves our becoming involved with people and not just giving them a gift or two … or three. This might include a simple phone call to Aunt Betty and her husband instead of purchasing a gift for them. And with regard to the children, they will all gravitate toward their favorite toy and forget about the rest. Attending or giving every party in which we believe we must engage can become a matter of “pick and choose” instead of jumping into everyone of them. And I’m not sure that giving a gift to everyone is really an act of benevolence as much as it may be more a matter of avoiding embarrassment if we don’t.

So, what are your Holidays going to be like this year? You know that you have choices so why don’t you try making some that will be good for you as well as for others. I doubt very much whether people will never speak to you again if you don’t remember them with a gift … do you? Don’t you wonder what it would be like to be sane during this season? Only you can determine and experience that. Try running the experiment and report the results to Santa so that he can remind you of what they were next year.

Both as a consultant and author, Charles Bonasera’s story-telling have motivated people to change patterns and resolve problems in their lives. All of his books contain valuable, practical lessons that people can easily apply to bettering and managing their lifestyles. He has also written a myriad of articles which can be found on his website at

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