This may be the most wonderful time of the year for some, but for others, it’s the most stressful. Between all the money we spend on the holidays and making time for all the holiday events, it can be overwhelming. Two things may be to blame for the stress you feel: a heavy mental load and excess emotional labor.
Mental load is also called the invisible load or cognitive labor, according to counselor Joey Trine. It’s the things you manage every day that take energy, but aren’t writing down and checking off on your to-do list. Marriage and Family therapist Aparna Sagaram notes that the mental load often falls on one person in the relationship, typically the woman. While emotional labor is the emotional work that goes into a relationship, like listening to a loved one when they’re upset. These two concepts feed into each other and can add to the stress you feel during the holidays.
These holiday tasks could be adding to that overwhelmed feeling and how to cope with it:
- Shopping for gifts - This definitely takes a big toll on your mental load, as the planning, shopping, wrapping and actual gift giving can be exhausting.
- Arranging holiday travel - Figuring out where you’re spending the holidays and making all the arrangements adds to your mental load, and then there’s the packing and transportation that piles on to it, too.
- Keeping track of all those social engagements - Between kids’ school events, parties and activities, your schedule is probably packed more than usual this time of year and if you’re hosting an event as well? You’re dealing with more stress and mental load.
- Being asked to do more - If you’re a volunteer or part of an organization, or your kid is on a sports team or in a performance, you’ll probably have more tasks to do, further adding to the mental load.
- Dealing with family dynamics - Bringing loved ones together can be stressful and that falls into the emotional labor category.
- To deal with all these feelings, make time for yourself - You may feel like you don’t have time for yourself with everything else going on, but you need it more than ever right now. Experts suggest delegating what you can and setting boundaries to balance out the emotional labor and increased mental load during the holidays.
Source: Huff Post