Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Understanding Holiday Stress

There's more going on in my life than I can quite keep up with. Do you ever feel the same way, especially over the holidays?

That's where I am today, right now.

80% of our stress flows from two or three pressure points. I am convinced of this, having done my own research on it for over 25 years. My primary pressure points are two:

  • relational tension or conflict with someone I love or respect.
  • situations that require multi-tasking (especially at a rapid pace).

I work by focusing on one task intensely at the time. I work towards harmony with others. I am slow and detail-oriented. But I can create fine things --
  • the turn of a phrase that hits your heart just right,
  • the picture that calls up your childhood longings,
  • the cake that melts in your mouth,
  • the garden flowers that flow over your soul like the first snow,
  • the gift that meets the need you didn't know you had -- with an elegance and eloquence you've been thirsting for,
  • the look of compassion and understanding that lets you know you're not alone.

With me, you may feel warmed, comforted, uplifted, and embraced. You may notice that I'm listening to you like no one has ever listened to you before. And you may suddenly notice that you've has been missing this kind of welcome for a very long time.

That's what I do. Create and nurture. To me, it's like breathing.

But I'm not fast. I'm not quick. I'm not clever. I'm not savvy. I'm not charming. I'm not good at juggling several tasks at once. I'm cautious to a fault. I'm clunky and awkward in situations that expect me to do things I haven't thought about yet, that require natural boldness, or that push me to perform under an unexpected deadline. There, I flounder.

Much of my life as a homeschooling mother put stress on my two pressure points. Homeschooling required multi-tasking. A lot of multi-tasking. It also meant a lot of relational tension and conflict. I had to confront problems and insist that the work be done to a certain standard, nearly every day. These were the main reasons I thought I wasn't suited for it.

But one day, I realized that other moms who were completely different from me felt the same way: that they weren't suited to it, either. They had a different set of reasons. They insisted that I had the ideal personality for homeschooling!

The simple truth is, we all have pressure points. Raising a family, building a home, even teaching our own -- these are demanding jobs that require many types of tasks and abilities. So regardless of our natural temperament and gifts, we will feel the stress upon our pressure points. We will feel it.

And most of us will feel it over the holidays, when we are expected to do more.

What are your pressure points? Are there situations or demands that are especially stressful for you?


  1. Uh, yes. Today, this week, it is called a "Christmas Cookie Exchange" event. I just KNEW it was a bad idea from the start. Knew it like the crumbs under my feet. But I kept quiet because I didn't want to throw my wet blanket upon a couple of newer dear friends who hatched the idea, friends with whom we are engaged in developing a weekly care group. SIX dozen cookies. Yes. Six dozen. Easy enough. haha

    Mine NEVER turn out the way that I would like them to look, and mine RARELY qualify as truly, traditional cookies like my grandmothers or mother would have made. (Never mind, we like them all the same.)

    But to have to share them and know they are acceptable is another matter indeed. Stress, yep. Matters of acceptability.

    Okay, there, that's my little tantrum.

    We've actually enjoyed our baking process, it's just that I do not consider the end product something you might find in a bakery. I guess what matters are they were crafted and baked in love.

    Observing that Mom was teetering upon the edge of full-scale tantrum, my youngest son who is most verbal said, "It's okay, Mom. We're going to get through this day ALIVE." :)

  2. Hilarious! I am LOL! Thanks for sharing.

  3. I really like this post. I will think on it.

  4. I would say the same two pressure points for you are pressure points for me. I can't stand tension. I want everyone to get along. And while I can multitask, if I have to do it for an extended amount of time, I get stressed - even if what I'm multitasking with isn't stressful. Just the pace and having to think about several things at once gets to me after awhile and I need to have a little break....a little calm.

  5. I am actually posting on something similar tomorrow! :-) My pressure points are 1: deviating from schedule and 2. entertaining. I. dont. entertain! LOL Over the holidays I end up hosting between 2-4 events. In a month's time! During the year I host about 2 events - all year! Then comes thanksgiving and the rest of the Christmas season. I'm not good at entertaining. I don't know why, but I just am not. And as for the schedule - the holiday season is just one very large schedule interruption. I have a very hard time staying on track. But we LOVE the holidays, especially the celebration of the Lord's birth, so I get over it :) I think we all do.

  6. Well I am like that too, I hate to multitask, since I get too sidetracked I can never can get anything done. Holiday time is very stressful for me, I worry about sending the cards on time, in buying all the right gifts, in wrapping them on time, in cooking, baking, and entartaining... Oh my, I get stressed just writing about it...:)


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