Holiday Stress: Failing To Anticipate Problems And Delays

by Doc Orman, M.D.

Another common cause of holiday stress is an action pattern I call Failing To Anticipate Problems And Delays.  This is a frequent cause of stress not just during the holidays, but all year long as well.

Most adults have sufficient life experiences to know the types of problems and delays that can come up during any time of the year.  They also have sufficient life experiences to anticipate the types of problems and delays that typically come up during the holiday season.  Thus, we should take the time to consider, and possibly even prepare for, certain situations that might arise during the holidays and that could cause stress for us (and for others) if we are not psychologically or otherwise prepared for them.

A Simple Example

Let me give you a very simple example of how this common action pattern, Failing To Anticipate Problems And Delays, can cause significant stress for us that could be easily avoided.  This is not a holiday stress example, but it illustrates the point I’m trying to make.

If your personal computer suddenly crashed, or became lost or stolen, I’m sure you would find this event somewhat stressful.  How much stress you actually experience, however, will be determined by whether you anticipated and prepared for this possibility…or not.  For example, if you regularly backup all your important data, or if you subscribe to an automatic online backup service for about $50 a year, you would be much less stressed by losing your computer data than a person who failed to anticipate and prepare for this well-known possibility.

Traffic Congestion

Another common example is failing to anticipate local traffic problems when you are headed off to somewhere and your arrival time is very critical.  Everyone knows that traffic jams can happen at almost any time, yet not everyone checks for local traffic reports before setting out for an important meeting or other destination.

During the holiday season, traffic congestion is much more likely to occur, both for you and for other people.  Thus, you need to be much more vigilant and prepared for this occurrence, and take steps to either avoid it or be more accepting of it when it happens.

Also, you should realize that traffic conditions will likely affect the travel plans of others during the holiday season.  So it is very likely…indeed almost the norm…to expect that others might be delayed in meeting up with you.  Here again, you need to be psychologically prepared for these common delays, so they don’t cause you excessive stress during the holidays.

Weather Contingencies

Depending upon where you live or travel to, you might need to anticipate and prepare for certain weather conditions that might arise during the holidays. Have you thought through any contingency plans, should the weather cause problems for any parties or events you might be holding?  If you live in an area where snow is a possibility, do you have enough salt, snow removal equipment, or even an auxiliary power generator?

These may seem like commonsense things that everyone would do, but you’d be surprised at how many people fail to consciously consider such events and prepare for them accordingly.  Again, we all know the importance of backing up our computers regularly, but how many of us actually do this?  And how many rationalize away the need to do this because their computer is very new, or because it’s made by a top manufacturer, etc.?   Well, new computers sometimes do crash, and they sometimes do get lost or stolen.   So if you don’t anticipate these possibilities, you might be leaving yourself open to experience high degrees of stress that you could have avoided with just a little bit of diligence.

What Other Problems And Delays Should You Be Prepared For?

There are many other problems and potential delays that you might need to anticipate and prepare for during the holidays.  Here are just a few more for you to consider, and I’m sure you could add many others:

  • Food allergies or preferences of your guests
  • People getting sick
  • Long lines and checkout delays the week before Christmas
  • Crowds and delays at grocery stores right before big holiday days

So take the necessary time during the next few weeks to think about and prepare for common problems and delays that you consider likely, or even remotely possible, during the upcoming holidays.

Even if the probability of a certain type of event is low, but the stress impact would be high, it might be worth preparing for, even if it turns out you didn’t need to do so.

Here’s a link to my free holiday stress relief e-book on Facebook.

Here’s a link to some additional holiday stress relief information from WebMD: Tips For Reducing Holiday Stress

 

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

vimax December 4, 2011 at 12:36 PM

thank your for your post and the rest. you know..

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