THE BLOG
12/26/2012 01:22 pm ET Updated Feb 25, 2013

Holiday Stress Hits Social Media

"It's the most wonderful time of the year," croons Andy Williams. During this purported wondrous time we slip into cocktail attire, cheerful smiles and gift with abandonment, hoping to meet or exceed nebulous expectations of seasonal happiness. Well, Christmas is over. My waistline has inched further from my core muscles and I sit in solitude, by choice.

Ho, ho, ho.

If, like me, you've taken a moment to sit and reflect on the strength of your relationships during this time of year you might agree that there isn't enough time before New Year's to immerse yourself in transcendental meditation to ease the angst that courses through you. Tweeters were concerned with whether a Michael Kors watch or bag made "classy" or déclassé gifts. Facebook-ers shared family-related anecdotes of the uncle enamored with whiskey, the mother busily nagging and other Holiday favorites under enough privacy settings to keep those blood relations intact -- I hope.

Has the ability to socially share removed the need to address the issues with yourself or loved ones that would fortify those relationships? If given the opportunity, would you engage in a discussion during the Holiday season to curtail the unwanted sentiments and behaviors through a face-to-face conversation?

A study from Badoo found that 39 percent of Americans spend more time socializing online than in person and 20 percent prefer communicating via written word (online or text message) than a face-to-face conversation. It's no surprise then that during the Holiday season of parties, time spent with family and otherwise undesirable in person gatherings, relationships are strained and tested. When it comes to romantic relationships one recent study found that respondents would choose to leverage Holiday "gifts (to) postpone relationship dissolution," whether or not those gifts contributed to "the eventual success or failure of the relationship." The implication is that we are incapable of addressing uncomfortable issues, whether conditioned via social media and technology or not.

Alexandra Samuel, director of the Social + Interactive Media Centre at Emily Carr University, maintains that the Internet can help build relationships as a touch point for couples. The medium does not replace the emotional and physical demands for a successful relationship. Social media is an add-on for an otherwise communicative couple. However, if there is misplaced desire in terms of our expectations of our romantic relationships, what's possibly at the core? According to relationship expert, Margaret Paul, Ph.D., Holiday "stress is often the result of trying to control something you can't control. If you are trying to have control over how others feel about you and treat you...then you will likely feel a lot of stress."

Dr. Paul says:

"one of the things that can create stress over the holidays is confusion about the difference between getting love and sharing love. Too often, people believe that getting love or approval will make them feel good. They don't understand that it is really the act of sharing their love that is so fulfilling."

Seeking approval from others and feeling disapproval when things don't go "right" also leads to stress. Overcoming this both online and offline requires that you establish what your desire is and how those desires can realistically be met so that your relationships do not become a source of stress. Social media, regardless of your privacy settings, is a public facing imprint of who you are. Disparaging relationships and loved ones won't address the issues that are festering while setting yourself up for a potentially awkward situation where a loved one comes across your character-capped comments.

My New Year's resolution is to deepen my understanding of myself so that I may have fulfilling relationships with others on- and off- line. Now that's a post worth making.

What's your New Year's resolution?

#ttfn
pedro