The 5 Worst Things Youíre Doing to Yourself

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Editor's Note: We know the holidays can be a busy time and that stress is a leading cause of emotional eating and other habits that can negatively impact your efforts to be healthy and happy. That's why SparkPeople is thrilled to share with you this blog post from the team at, a site whose mission very closely aligns with our own. meQuilibrium helps you dial down  the negative effects of stress by coaching you to take control of your thoughts, emotions and lifestyle habits with a unique online program.

Together SparkPeople and meQuilibrium are committed to making you healthier and happier, one step at a time. At the end of this post, you'll learn how to get a FREE 6-week unlimited access to meQuilibrium, including a special 30-day introductory stress-relief program, as a gift exclusively for SparkPeople members! Don't miss this limited-time offer!

You’re not a masochist, and yet, this time of year, you could possibly pass for one. You take on more than you could possibly do and aspire to even more. You raise your standards, your expectations, and your stress levels—all in the name of good cheer and a happy holiday.
What? Does it have to be like this? We don’t think so. You can change your experience of the holidays—but you have to aware of what you’re doing first. Let’s start with five things you’re doing to yourself that are making things way harder than they have to be.
  1. You think you should make it all from scratch. Yourself. I get it—the homemade candy and cookies, the little hand-sewn soap pockets (not kidding, someone thinks this is a good idea). Then there’s the handmade hand-stamped wrapping paper with arty kitchen twine, the personalized holiday cards, and on it goes.

    If you’re a crafty person and love that this is the one time of year you get a good excuse to knit, of course, go for it. But if not, my advice: Pick one thing you’re going to make, and make it for everyone. Something easy, heartfelt, but not something that’s going to leave you sobbing at midnight on Dec. 23.  Make one thing your thing this year, start early, be consistent, and keep it simple.
  2. You’re expecting people, personalities, and relationships to change, simply because it’s the holiday season. Look, I have fallen prey to this myself. And yes, I like to think we can all rise to the occasion and above old petty arguments when the season is upon us. But the stress of the season can often do the opposite, and bring out the worst.

    In fact, it’s worth taking extra care to address any touchy topics or areas of conflict well in advance of the holiday itself so that it doesn’t disrupt the festivities. And, to take a lot of it in stride. Unless you’re hoping Santa delivers an entirely new family to your door, you’ll find the same cast of characters there: your sister-in-law will ask the nosy questions she always does, and your father will let your mother do all the dishes, and your Aunt Edna will ride your last nerve. You know this. Plan for it. The way to keep the peace is to let some things slide.

  3. You’re practicing mind reading on a daily basis (and, newsflash, you’re not a mind-reader). You believe that you know what someone else is thinking right now, and often you expect the very worst. You assume your mother is judging your decision around where to spend the holiday; you are 100 percent sure your husband is thinking you’re spending too much money.

    The problem with these make-believe conversations and judgments is that when you believe them, you react to them—in the real world—and create tension where none need be. Make yourself a promise that before you jump to conclusions, about anything, you’ll ask the questions. Invite the conversation. Be honest about your concerns, rather than assume everyone is against you.
  4. You’re translating love into money. It’s easy to do. I’ve done it—overspent on people out of this odd sense that I owe them. The danger is when you replace your holiday budget with an emotionally triggered system, whereby you use money to fix problems in a relationship. We know this doesn’t work, but we do it anyway. So when you realize you’re stretching yourself thin in an effort to prove, signify, or reinforce an emotional bond, rethink it. Ask yourself if there are things you can do to improve or heal those relationships that have taken a beating this year—ones that don’t require a Visa.
  5. You’re treating your holiday as a marathon. How many times have you thought, I just need to get through this. As if the holidays are one long stretch designed to drain you of energy and joy. In fact, the holidays are meant to buoy and uplift—but they can’t if you see them as something to endure. Yes, it’s an incredibly busy time, and can be physically, emotionally, and spiritually draining. But if you view the time from now through the new year as a series of brief sprints with a whole lot of walking in between, you might actually enjoy it. Where can you slow down, stop, seek support, soak in the fun stuff?

    …In fact, we believe that making the experience of the holidays different starts with an intention—the decision to approach it differently. Join us in taking back the holidays as a time of joy by taking the meQ pledge. (Be sure to "Pin" and "Share" the pledge to help other commit to a less-stressful holiday season.)

Are you ready to learn how you can understand and manage your stress with meQuilibrium's interactive coaching system, meQ? Click here for details and your FREE 6-week trial offer, a special gift exclusively for SparkPeople members!  Take advantage of this limited-time offer now. The meQuilibrium 30-day program to decrease stress is the perfect tool to help you stay calm and in balance during the holiday season.

What do you pledge to do differently this holiday season?

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Wow -- this was meant for me. It is after the holidays, but almost all of that was me! Wow. Thanks! Report
Great advice! Report
good advice... thanks for sharing Report
i'm just curious as to why you cannot find any prices on the site, for after the trial. makes you wonder.
Attitude of gratitude, always works every time
I just need to remember Report
I don't have stress. I've read "SHRINK YOURSELF" by Roger Gould M.D. and found him to be very helpful. Report
I think #3 hit home the most (thought I certainly relate to all of them). I need to let go of the "make-believe" conversations and judgments because all they do is cause unnecessary stress. I'm trying my best to live each day with more patience and grace towards others and even towards myself. And with those long-standing family dramas, it's also best to practice forgiveness and really allow the spirit of love to enter our homes and hearts...during the hectic holiday season, and on a daily basis. Report
I signed up yesterday and when I attempted to log in today, I keep getting redirected to a payment page. Cannot get anywhere else.... what's up? Report
I'm not a person who stresses never have been do what I can and not worry about what has not been done. Years ago I cut back on the home made goodies with everyone watching their weight, don't bake it they will not be tempted to eat it. I have never been one to over do on christmas presents everyone got one really nice present the rest of the stuff was small but given with love and if I could not pay for it with cash they did not need it. Report
Very useful info. Interested in seeing how the 6 weeks goes. Turns out I am doing everything I am not suppose to!! I do deserve a break! Report
I have a habit of spreading myself to thin. Thanks for the info. Appreciated it! Report
I loved this article and it is something we can all relate to. Report
I can sure use this advice now! In the the thick of it, with the addition of the unexpected death of a loved one to the stressors. Report
I am notorious for all of these things! Especially the overspending. Though my kids are grown now, I am still paying off debt from guilt for not giving them most of everything they wanted. It was like living in a JC Penny commercial - that everything had to be 'perfect'. I learned my lesson, but my husband hates me now for the debt. Report
What a great and timely article! Report
I use a program like the one you are offering, that has helped me achieve the goals you set forth in your system
I hope people will use the tools you are offering... they will change your life! Report
nice true. I try real hard to do this. I go Christmas shopping in October and get started so by December I am done. One less stress. I only do the things I choose to so that I can enjoy the holidays. Report
No you are not asked for a credit card. There is actually no information about what the future costs may be. But, I have already started my trial and I am finding that the information you can download and save is extremely valuable. Even if I decide not to continue I will have a nice Workbook of great advice on a how to emotionally handle stress better. I already handled some recent stress following the actions given in the program. I like what I see so far and as I said even if it is too expensive to continue what I am learning is already showing me a way towards better balance in my life. Report
do you need to give a cc number in order to take advantage of the 30 day offer? Report
Yes, you can use the 30 days after the holidays. :) Report
So can I use the 30 day trial after the Holidays? lol I know I need it sooner because feeling overwhelmed is a common occurance for me but until after Christmas just don't have the time to study it all. Report
This is awesome, thank you for posting!

In regards to #2 (about the family), my Aunt gave me a great tip from her counselor. Just pretend you're an actor (or actress) and you're playing a role in it all. So, if things get a little annoying, it's just part of the plot. If you disconnect a little from all the emotions, it turns more into a game & keeps the emotion at bay. I thought it was an interesting perspective and I found it works! Of course, you keep your genuine love and enjoy the family first. Enjoy the happy times & "act" through the annoyances. :) Report
This is something I really, really need and am excited to have a chance to try it out! Thank you, SparkPeople and meQuillibrium! Report
Wow--these points are so true especially during the holiday season when we are all trying to fit so many extra activities, things and people into our already busy lives. Our equilibrium sure does seem to get completely off balance and it sounds like meQuilibrium can help give us a new perspective by helping us to live in the moment and not become so over-whelmed by all the extra holiday spirit that seems to throw everything we strive for daily during the rest of the year completely out the window. Here's to finding balance and the true holiday spirit this season! Report
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