Survive Holiday Stress

‘Tis the season to be jolly…right? I don’t want to speak for anyone else, but the holidays sometimes make me feel irritable, overwhelmed and even a little bit down. And doesn’t stress seem to be magnified during this time of year? Whether the reason for your stress is lack of finances or overspending, relationships, family, over commitment or time constraints, there are some strategies that seem to help me and may help you boost your happiness during the holiday season.

Take a deep breath, take your time and plan. Try to give yourself plenty of time to do what you need to do. Take time to plan your shopping trips, holiday budget, and family gatherings or dinner parties by making a list of tasks that need to be done. There is a sense of relief and accomplishment when you cross them off your list! Stay flexible; plans may not unfold as expected. If this happens, don’t panic and realize there is a solution to all challenges.

Sleep and exercise. You need to make time for both because they will significantly decrease stress and help elevate your mood. Lack of sleep is one of the major effectors of people’s moods. As for exercise, it is recommended that we get 60 minutes of exercise a day. If you aren’t able to get the recommended amount of exercise, remember that every little bit helps. If you’re away from home and can’t do your usual routine, try taking a short walk. If you get enough sleep and daily exercise, you may be able to better deal with some of those difficult relatives!

Don’t overeat. There is a lot of guilt associated with holiday binging, and it may be a significant contributor to the holiday blues. To prevent overeating, eat protein rich snacks like cheese and crackers or half of a peanut butter sandwich, include nutrient rich foods in your meals, and make sure your portions are not too large.

Have fun! Figure out ways to include fun in you holiday activities. You can have a white elephant gift exchange where you buy a silly gift for someone. You can get a group of people together and do something fun like going to a festive movie. You may also find it enjoyable to volunteer some of your time to those less fortunate; this generally creates a sense of well-being and can put things into perspective.

Remember what the holidays are all about: giving and enjoying family, friends and the spirit of the holidays. Try not to extend yourself to the point of anxiety or fatigue; this is supposed to be a joyous time of year, so enjoy it!

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