Coping with holiday stress

‘Tis the season to be jolly. Here are some tips to keep it that way!

The holiday season brings joy, cheer, sparkling lights, parties, gifts, and family time. Holidays also mean dashing to decorate the house, elbowing through crowds at the mall and fretting about the right gift, or how to pay for it. Hectic schedules can contribute to increased stress levels in adults. These tips can help keep stress under control so your holidays can be merry and bright just as they should be!

  1. Create a game plan ahead of time. Make a list of things to buy and try to shop ahead. If you’ll be cooking, plan your menu. Think whether some items could be prepared ahead and frozen or refrigerated.
  2. Make a budget and stick to it. Money is one of the major stressors during the holidays. Don’t overspend. A thoughtful gift doesn’t have to be expensive. If money is tight, suggest a family gift exchange with a spending limit.
  3. Accept reality. Guests may arrive late. Your mother may get on your nerves. You may run out of cake. Don’t expect perfect decorations, a perfect meal or perfect people. Just go with the flow and enjoy what you have.
  4. Beware of unhealthy stress relievers. Holiday stress causes some people to fall into bad habits, such as smoking, drinking too much or overeating. Think about unhealthy habits you’re prone to and better ways to handle stress.
  5. Create new traditions. Stressed out by the usual festivities? Try something different. Instead of cooking a huge meal on your own, make it a potluck. Ask adults to bring gag gifts or suggest a white elephant or a used book gift exchange. Attend a local holiday concert, walk the neighborhood to look at holiday lights or go sledding if there’s snow.
  6. Make time for your health. Try to stay on your normal sleep schedule and get regular exercise. If you can’t find a 30-minute chunk of time for exercise, break it up into three 10-minute sessions spread throughout the day.
  7. Watch out for caffeine and alcohol. Caffeine and alcohol can raise your stress level and interfere with sleep. Drinking too much may make you feel depressed. Instead, drink plenty of water or try herb tea or seltzer.
  8. Give yourself a break. When preparing for the holidays, it’s easy to forget to take care of yourself. If you feel stress building up, get away for a few minutes. Find a quiet corner and listen to your favorite music, throw on a coat and go for a walk, or just sit down and breathe deeply.
  9. Enjoy! Holidays are supposed to be a time for family and togetherness. Amid the holiday rush, we sometimes forget what we’re celebrating. Savor the time with people you love.


Source: ERS News (December 2014)

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