7 Tips To Managing Holiday Stress

Parties, shopping, cooking, cleaning, entertaining and unwelcome guests — from Christmas to New Years, the festivities present a dizzying array of demands. For many, the stress of the holidays results in fatigue, insomnia, illness, anxiety and depression, rather than peace and joy.

If you did a Google search for “Holiday Stress Tips,” you would be referred to more than 2 million websites. Think there might be a problem with stress during the holidays? Here are some words of wisdom gleaned from the Healthy Lifestyle experts at the Mayo Clinic.

Learn to recognize common holiday triggers, so you can disarm them before they lead to a meltdown.
Start with relationships. Misunderstandings with family and friends can intensity during the holidays, especially if you’re thrust together for several days. Make a conscious effort to set aside your differences during the holidays — as in, don’t talk politics.

Be proactive in dealing with the financial demands of the season.
The added expenses of gifts, travel, food and entertainment can put a serious strain on your finances and your peace of mind. Set a budget for the holidays and stick to it.

Plan ahead.
Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, visiting friends and other holiday activities. Set your menus, then make a shopping list. That will help avoid last-minute scrambling to buy forgotten items. The physical demands of shopping, cooking and socializing can be very fatiguing. Being exhausted increases your stress and sets you up for illness. The perfect antidote is scheduled down-time and sleep.

Acknowledge your feelings.
If someone close to you has recently died or you can’t be with loved ones for the holidays, realize that it’s normal to feel sadness and grief no matter what the season. And go ahead and cry. You can’t force yourself to be happy just because it’s the holiday season. Reach out. If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out community, religious or other social events. Volunteering your time is a good way to lift your spirits and broaden your friendships.

Be realistic. The holidays don’t have to be perfect or just like last year. As families grow and change, traditions and rituals often change as well. Learn to say “no.” Saying “yes,” when you should say “no,” can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and colleagues will understand if you can’t participate in every activity.

Don’t abandon healthy habits and let the holidays become a free-for-all. Overindulgence only adds to your stress. Take a breather. Set aside some time for exercise and for yourself to clear your mind and refocus. The holiday season is a marathon, not a wind sprint.

Don’t hesitate to seek professional help if you need it. Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious, plagued by physical complaints, unable to sleep, irritable or feeling hopeless and unable to face everyday activities. If these feelings persist, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional. Mental health experts contend that depression peaks during the holiday season affecting some 17.6 million Americans.

A recent study by Pacific Health Laboratories found that 34 percent of men and 44 percent of women reported feeling “blue” this time of the year. Make the commitment to take control of the holidays this year. Take the necessary steps to short-circuit stress, fatigue and depression.

And finally, don’t forget there’s a reason for the season and it has nothing to do with Santa Claus, eggnog or Amazon Prime. Most churches open their doors to all comers during the holiday season — a most appropriate place to take refuge from the insanity of the “holidaze.”

Original Article by Cord Prettyman

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