Scottsdale, Arizona - Women report more stress over the holidays compared to men. They say it’s harder to relax during the holidays. Women also are more likely to engage in default coping skills, like comfort eating. Why is this the case?

Just take a look at the magazine rack at your local grocery store. Women are being instructed to make the perfect meal, decorate the home, buy the perfect gifts — all this pressure for perfection. This societal pressure is strong, and research shows women are almost twice as likely as men to say they’ll do all the work necessary to pull off the festivities. No wonder women have more stress than men when it comes to the holidays. So, how do you handle this stress?

In-the-moment de-stressors:

  • Read a book, go for a walk, journal.
  • Have a lunch or phone date with a friend.
  • Deep breathing – Pretend you’re breathing air all the way down to your toes - inhale for five, and exhale for five. Notice your belly moving up and down, not your chest.

Ask yourself, is the way I do holidays working for me?

  • To answer this, first think about your values.
    • You can think of values as a compass. They aren’t goals that you can check off a list, they are a compass that guides you.
    • For example, if you value learning, you can’t check that off a list. Learning is something that is ongoing.
  • I would highly recommend sitting down and making a list of your top values.
  • If you want, doing a values card sort is a great way to kick start this process. Google 'values card sort.' This is an exercise where you can sort values cards and create a list of your most important values.
  • Then, once you have that list, ask yourself is the way you’re approaching the holidays consistent with these values? If it’s not, then ask yourself what you want to do differently.
  • If you do holidays in a way that is consistent with what’s important to you, and not what’s important to society, this will eliminate a lot of unnecessary stress.

Jordan Rullo, Ph.D., Mayo Clinic clinical psychologist and certified sex therapist.