Viewpoint: Stress, holidays, food go together

Sara Katherine Johnson | Reporter
Sara Katherine Johnson | Reporter
By Sara Katherine Johnson

The holidays bring many good things that are acknowledged everywhere: dessert, decorations, celebrating with loved ones, and every other good thing you can think of. What we do not usually talk about are the stressful things that come with the holidays. Family reunions can be a double-edged sword and the to-do list can seem never-ending for getting the perfect party together. Even good stress wears on the body. The key thing is for people to take care of themselves first.

Self-care during the holidays can be tough if you’re not careful. The no. one thing that can get me down in the dumps during Christmas is explaining my major for the umpteenth time to my family. After reminding them I’m basically a double writing major, they remind me they think newspapers are dead. One cousin even assured me people will not be reading books in 20 years. I know I am not alone in this struggle. The best thing to do is smile, nod and let the helpful feel helpful.

Whatever happens, do not feel pressured to apologize for what makes you happy.

The second thing to remember during holidays is that alone time is healthy. Reconnecting with family and celebrating widely with friends is great. Taking a break is healthy too.

If you’re a house guest that might be hard. Try taking a walk outside or finding a way to help that is not in the midst of the crowd. This is also a great technique should touchy subjects come up, like what your future job plans are.

One thing that can be prepared for though is the day’s events. Having a realistic game-plan of how to maneuver what needs to be done can help for not being stressed. Do not buy the turkey the day of. Do not forget about picking up the extended family from the airport. Do not forget your grandma has a gluten allergy when you’re buying dessert.

While preparation is good, over preparation is bad. Sure there was a perfect vision of hung garland and the best turkey anyone has ever had. It is not worth it to have the flashiest get-together if it means stress. Scale-back when necessary. I think holiday celebrations need to take moderation into account. Plan some, but not too much. Share funny stories, but not too much if feedback is not wanted. An extra slice of pie, though, will be OK.

Holidays and family reunions should be happy occasions. Over complicating it with reaching for perfection clouds the real purpose. Family and friends should be happy with the basic needs being met, like everyone healthily gathered. Realistically, that is not everyone’s basis for calling the holidays a success.

Maybe culturally we need to reassess what the holiday bustle is about. As far as people taking care of themselves, though, I propose we all simplify things. Eat well, enjoy company, have fun, but do not overdo it.

Sara Katherine Johnson is a senior journalism and professional writing double major from Katy. She is a reporter and a regular columnist for the Lariat.