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The calm before the storm
Halloween is over and, at least if you are planning on long-distance traveling, Thanksgiving is creeping up on us rather fast. And after that there is the mayhem of the holiday seasons: constant playing of Christmas and other holiday songs, Christmas shopping, decorating and anything else you need to do to prepare for Christmas. There are office parties that start early December and the secret santa names have probably already been handed out. Before all this mayhem, before Thanksgiving, there seems to be a quiet lull. The Halloween specials have been replaced by the normal TV broadcasting. Advertisements and store shelves have begun to fill themselves up with Christmas and Thanksgiving goodies, but of which most do not pay any head, except to make fun of how the holiday shopping is being forced upon us earlier and earlier each year. It is the quiet before the storm. Deals are stating to be heard, but nothing compares to Black Friday and, quite frankly, both customers and dealers alike know this. So while bribes begin now, the real holiday shopping wont start until the day after Thanksgiving. Christmas decor is not in place, though one may find some Thanksgiving goodies placed about the house. Even this does not happen, it  would seem, until the around a week before Thanksgiving. This all leads to a single question: what do we do now?

Halloween, admittedly, gets us thinking of the Holiday Season. Little ones get excites and grown-ups start their preparations (and possibly get a little excited themselves). Halloween has come and gone and leaves us all with hat too-familiar feeling of a holiday passed. We all know what lurks around the corner, but for at least two, maybe three weeks, there is simply not much we can do. Sure, we can make out list for Christmas gifts. We can get the whole family organized so we know which house Thanksgiving will be held at this year. Nevertheless, we cannot cook our Thanksgiving meals quite yet (though I suppose a little practice making that turkey or maybe your famous side dish you bring every year can't hurt). So we are left in quiet anticipation of the holidays with nothing to do to help prepare for the oncoming annual chaos. Even if one were to try to buy all the Christmas presents now, there would still be the last few things" one needs to grab. And who wants to pay more than they have to if all they have to do is wait just a short amount of time for the price goes down? No, alas, we cannot truly do anything productive or holiday-y for a bit of time. Many may not feel it, but it seems this is a recipe for a perfect storm of anticipation. If not looked out for, it may cause irritability and a sense of haziness. Not the haziness from needing to do too much at once that often hits in the month of December, but the haziness of not know which direction to go. Essentially, we don't know what to do now. So we throw ourselves at any available project, one that most likely contains a productive result (at least for us) and keeps some part of us, or all of us, focused solely on this one project. For some this may happen before Halloween, since the feeling of oncoming holiday-ness begins to overwhelm us then though most can ward it off with the buying of costumes, decorations, candies, or decorating the house to look spooky for a month. Those that have none of these projects most likely feel the pre-holiday jitters before anyone else, which is only briefly eliminated the weekend or just the day of Halloween. After Halloween, the rest of us sets into the same mode. Even children get caught up in it. It seems they are possibly either fairly caught up in their school activities, though it probably isn't math but friends or sports or the latest fade replacing Pokemon cards, or can't focus on school activities at all because they are busy with some other project. Adults get frustrated now when they see any amount of unproductive-ness, which is caused by their own inability to be product in an area they know they need to be asap and unable to even focus too much on it because they themselves are consumed by a project. Perhaps this is why parents around this time of year are more hard on their kids. It really only adds to the stress levels of the house, which will soon sky-rocket due to the start of the holiday storm.

Perhaps you know exactly what I am talking about here, but maybe not. Some of us are much more heavily affected by this pre-holiday jitters than others. Most likely, those that suffer greater amount of pre-holiday jitters also suffer more during the storm. This may reveal itself in general anxiety of making sure the house is always clean, always trying to think of and buy the perfect present, planning the Christmas party or how one is to cook 40-something cupcakes on one night for the kid's class party. Most likely, this person is type A person. A more type B response is to be angry about the whole holiday season. They usually can't stand the constant amount of Christmas songs, the little children being extra hyper, ect. As the grinch so nicely put it, they can't put up with "all the noise, noise, noise!" Children are most likely to be extra excited and hyper or more moody than usual. And as for the project from the previous month, some cling to it so long as they can't find a holiday-type thing to do (or just don't want to). Once they need to get a gift, plan an event, or do anything for Christmas they usually can force themselves out of their project to work on it. This is only possible, of course, if the person believes it to be more important than their project. This is most likely to happen if they are working on buying or planning something for a loved one.

Here is a good, easy, visible example of this. One may find for their project a video game, either one in particular or just beating games in general. They find the need to constantly play whenever they have free time. Most likely this person already loved or liked video games, but now their is a huge increase in their game playing time. They usually focus in on a game at a time. The thing to tear them away will be their loved one. Specifically as far as the holiday storm is concerned, they will go out, search the web, ect for a gift for their loved one. However, when not trying to find that gift, they will probably be playing that video game as a cooping mechanism for the now occuring storm, rather than the pre-holiday jitters that got them into playing in the first place. The reason for this? When one is stressed, one immediately looks for comforts wherever they can be found. Since at least on some level video games is the most current relaxing activity programmed in (thank you pre-holiday jitters), this is what they will turn to during the storm itself. The difference between these two is the motivation behind the project. One is to fulfill the need to do something where nothing can be done. The other is to do something relaxing when all one can do is work and work and work at enormous amount of stuff to do for the holidays. Some, the type A, will only do this after atleast some of their insane to-do list is done for the day. Meanwhile, they type B person wants to avoid the stress all together and so avoids the holiday stuff and their to-do list unless heavily suppressed or suddenly are filled with desire to drop the controller and plan or buy that gift.

The result of all this is slower ability to work at school or at a job, which can be extremely frustrating since most jobs require the pace to be quickened around this time of year. This leads inevitably to feelings in inadequacy, which are unhealthy and even dangerous at times- especially during the holiday season when people seem to become their most vulnerable. Ever wonder why there is an increase in weight lose and other self improvement ads on TV during this time of year? It's not because of all the sweets (though I am sure it plays a very small part, but really that is just the excuse). It is because people feel at their lowest right now. Its not helpful that we cannot just program ourselves to have our project be our work. In fact, it rarely is our work because the project is to fill the void that is left by the demands of the holiday season, not the demands of the work we do roughly all year round.

Have you ever felt just more anxious, distracted, disappointed around this time of year? Then maybe this is why. 

So it is nice to know a bit more of the why behind the stress, but how can we help things get better? That requires more thought and so it will, hopefully, appear on the next post.

To anyone who is actually reading this post: 1) I am sorry for the typos, those will be cleaned up later. 2) Comments/ questions are always welcomed!


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