Magazine article Work & Family Life

Surefire Ways to Reduce Holiday Stress

Magazine article Work & Family Life

Surefire Ways to Reduce Holiday Stress

Article excerpt

The holidays are a time for friends, family and relaxation-but the pressure to get everything done and be merry can become "a bit much." Difficult relatives, anxious friends, year-end job demands and overstimulated children add their own strong tugs on your patience-and on your already overflowing "to-do" list.

How often have you wished you could simply blurt out "no" to someone asking for your time, your talent, your energy, your muscle, your money, your thoughts, your support or merely your presence?

One way to sidestep holiday stress and feel rested and joyous as you begin the New Year is to learn how to say no when that's really what you want or need to say. In fact, no, thank you can become some of the most positive words in your vocabulary. Put into action, the power of a simple, polite no can be far-reaching. It can eliminate the need to push yourself to the max-or perhaps to spend the holidays somewhere other than where you want to be.

Don't overestimate the fallout

Refusing a request can be difficult for many people, however. And, sometimes, what keeps you from saying no is often right below the surface of the question: an implied challenge, an unspoken, guilt-producing should, your hesitation to offend or disappoint or your fear of the asker's power or perceived hold on you.

There's a gray area too, filled with things about which you have no strong feelings or opinions. But being wishy-washy or undecided can leave you floundering when requests come out of the blue.

Rarely is a request as straightforward as it appears. You might fear damaging friendship, hurting a parent's feelings, disappointing a boss or even having a child be upset. But you'll quickly learn that the fallout from saying no is less extreme than you may imagine.

Saying no will not turn you into a bully or make you insensitive or petty. You won't stop helping others, but you may become more discerning about how you respond to a request and to whom. By being more selective about the demands you respond to, you'll protect your health, have time for yourself and still be able to assist the people you want to help and take part in the activities you care about the most.

Here are 10 tips to ease the awkwardness of refusing others' requests-and help you cope with the season's demands (and way beyond).

1 When you're approached with a request, pause and briefly analyze what's being asked of you. Make sure you understand the magnitude of the job before you say, "Yes, I'll organize the bake sale, collect money for the holiday party, make the costumes for the school play...." Be aware that you do have a choice in what to say yes or no to.

2 Allow other people in your life to take control. You don't have to do everything alone. Eliminating the need to run things relieves much of the pressure you put on yourself. Maybe it's true that the holiday decorations won't turn out as well as if you did them, but they will be done-and you won't be the one worrying about them.

3 Be specific about the amount of time you have to devote to the task if you decide to say yes to something-whether it's helping a friend shop for gifts or decorating for the New Year's Eve party. Learn 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. …

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