Handling Holiday Stress

December 01, 2011

The holidays are a wonderful time of the year, to be shared with loved ones and friends. But for many of us the warm tidings of comfort and joy can be overwhelmed by stress or depression. All the parties, shopping, baking, and entertaining added on to an already busy lifestyle can wear you down. You can minimize the stress that accompanies the holidays and enjoy them more than ever! You may even be able to spread a little more cheer!
  • Relax. Don't demand perfect holidays, or try to recreate one from the past. Choose a few special traditions to continue and allow new ones into your lives. If your parents or adult children can't come to your house, find different ways to celebrate together, with videos and pictures.  If you're technically savvy, try opening your present together via Skype!
  • Keep the Peace. Set aside differences or grievances with family members and friends. Be patient and understanding if others are upset or distressed, or something doesn't go as planned. The holidays may be even more stressful for some of your loved ones.
  • Budget. Decide how much money you can afford to spend before you go shopping and stick to it! Times are difficult and you may want to try an alternative. Give homemade gifts or baked goods. Donate to a friend's favorite charity in their name.
  • Structure. Plan ahead for shopping, baking, and visiting.  Make shopping lists for baking and cooking so you don't end up with multiple last-minute trips to the store.
  • Know Your Limits. Friends and loved ones will understand if you can't participate in every event. Plan on the important ones and take on the extra activities when you can enjoy them -- and be enjoyable company!
  • Maintain a Healthy Regimen. Holidays can easily turn into a free-for-all of overindulgence, leaving you feeling ill and cranky. Have a healthy snack before holiday parties so that you don't go overboard holiday treats or drinks. Get plenty of sleep and physical activity.
  • Take a Break. Take some time for yourself. Even 15 minutes spent relaxing alone, can recharge you to take on the extra tasks. Take a walk or listen to some favorite music. Find an activity that reduces stress, clears your mind, and restores your inner calm.
  • Accept Your Feelings. If you can't be with loved ones, or have recently lost someone close to you, it's normal to feel sadness and grief. Take time to express your feelings. If you are alone or isolated from family and friends, look for community, religious or other social events. Volunteer your time to help others, sharing the goodwill of the season is a good way to brighten the day for yourself and others.
Take steps now to prevent the stress and depression that can dampen the holiday season. Recognize your holiday 'triggers,' whether they be financial pressures or personal demands, so you can create a balance to handle them before you become stressed-out. A pinch of planning and a dab of positive thinking are necessary ingredients to help you find peace and joy during the holidays.

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