Small changes make big differences.

Tuesdays with MOJO/Don’t be a martyr

Marjorie Spitz Rento2 Comments

Yes “help” is a 4-letter word, but the good kind. So why treat it like a swear word?

The holidays are here, hooray. Or for many it’s oy vey! It’s not that we don’t enjoy the opportunities for time with friends and family, charity and gift giving, and the bevvy of annual delicacies to indulge in.

It’s how we deal with those that charts the course for whether it an enjoyable or miserable time. Although many things may be out of your direct control, you are the driver of your own destiny. Take the wheel!

Holiday stress is real. Studies show although it isn’t the kind of stress associated with suicide or deep depression, there is an increase in anxiety, heart attacks, and disease associated with weight gain, binge drinking, sodium intake and lack of movement.

A 2004 study published in Circulation found “The number of cardiac deaths is higher on Dec. 25 than on any other day of the year, second highest on Dec. 26, and third highest on Jan. 1.”

There are many factors that influence this, such as:

  • Cold weather, which can constrict blood vessels (and raise blood pressure)
  • Postponing doctor visits until “after the holidays”
  • Lack of outlets for anger, especially if workout routines take a back seat
  • Pressure to meet work deadlines prior to the end of the year
  • Going it alone 

With December just two days away, take a moment to clearly see what’s on your plate now through January 1. What do you absolutely need to handle yourself and where can you share the load? What is one small step you could take to make it more manageable this year?

Asking for help is a demonstration of strength not weakness. This is especially true at work, although it important you ask smartly, not emotionally. For tips see this video from the Harvard Business Review. 

And in your personal life, delegating tasks can be critical to keeping your head afloat. Below are just some suggestions for where to start:

  • Meals: You gotta eat, right? If you are the main cook in your household, use this time as an opportunity for kids and spouses to learn to prepare a favorite dish. If that makes you cringe, consider a go-to take out meal (Chinese food restaurants will cater to your requests. Ask them to steam a protein and veggie dish, and add sauces yourself), or try a home delivery service like Blue Apron, Fresh Direct, Purple Carrot or Hello Fresh, etc.
  • Gift-wrapping: Gift-wrapping can be a very Zen-like, meditative experience. If you enjoy it, then amen! But if you are consistently wrapping till 2:00 a.m. with clinched jaw, put on the music, line up some energizing snacks and hand each family member a gift or two to wrap. This also creates a great teaching opportunity so next year they can do it themselves (of course without spoiling their own gift surprises).
  • Household or gift purchases: With the stores packed and traffic alert high, save yourself the hassle of buying on site and get out the computer. Ordering online will save you a trip to the mall or market, plus force you to plan so you are less likely to overspend—a win-win!  If you can’t fathom that, bring a buddy and split up your lists. Carpooling will give you time to catch up and save fuel, and list sharing will keep you from getting distracted by items you don’t need.
  • Holiday cards: I love getting cards from people near and far, especially the personalized ones. Consider pre-printed cards from inexpensive resources like Vistaprint. Save yourself the hassle of handwriting addresses and have the envelopes pre-printed with return and mailing addresses.  Instead use that time to write a note. Host a card writing night with friends and family complete with stamping assembly line to make it fun and time-saving.
  • Tradition slump: If you’re following all the same holiday routines because you always have, yet they no longer bring you joy, open up the floor to friends and family and start a new tradition. Have everyone suggest new twists that result in less time, money and stress.
  • Time crunches: Use time productively. If you feel stressed leaving your desk or home to squeeze in a workout, use the opportunity to also listen to a book, podcast, hold a walking meeting/call, or just to clear your head. Studies show time away from the desk increases creativity and results in some of the best ideas and problem solving solutions.

When all else fails, laugh. Yup, get a good belly chuckle in. It will immediately change your energy.

People often don’t ask for help for fear of failure. Steve Jobs had a great response for that 

So don’t be a martyr, ask for help. Be vulnerable. You not only will reduce your “to do” list, but show your humanness and make others feel needed.

Helpfully yours,


Marjorie, Chief MOJO Maker™