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10 Ways to "De-Stress" This Holiday Season

I’m not sure when or how it happened, but Halloween has come and gone – and, like it or not, we are in the holiday season. The stores are already prepared with lights and music, holiday menus are being planned in homes across the U.S., and Black Friday shopping sprees are being strategized. It seems like we just get the kids back in school, and it’s time for Halloween, which leads to Thanksgiving, which takes us right up to Christmas, New Year’ s Eve and New Year’s Day. Many are exhausted just thinking about it.

We are already such busy people – with many day-to-day responsibilities like kids, jobs, pressures of both home and work, obligations to our extended family, our neighborhoods and our churches. This is the natural busyness of life that, while somewhat relentless and, at times difficult to juggle, is the norm. Somehow most of us manage to cope fairly well. With the holiday season, the norm shifts into high gear with all sorts of additional stressors. The day-to-day responsibilities and obligations now collide with gift shopping, sending cards, baking cookies, attending school musicals, and planning perfect and fabulous meals pleasing to all the relatives and friends who have been invited. There may also be work obligations with holiday parties, Secret Santa gifts and the ongoing challenge of saying “no” to a mountain of yummy treats that find their way into our workplace. Then there are the financial issues that creep in – how to afford all of this and still pay the rent. For some, there are additional stressors such as missing a loved one who passed away, coping with a sick family member or dealing with a mental health issue.

The pressure starts to build and even the strongest among us can begin to feel quite overwhelmed. For those who might need a little help in coping with all of this additional stress, here are some ideas:

  1. Think about a realistic budget for gifts, parties, and holiday meals – and stick to it.
  2. Stay committed to your exercise routine.
  3. Stay hydrated – drink some water.
  4. Get 7-9 hours of sleep every night.
  5. Exercise a little portion control at the holiday dinner table or the office Christmas party.
  6. Enjoy a few sweets – just don’t go overboard – pick your favorite and savor it!
  7. Monitor the alcohol intake – avoid it all together if possible.
  8. Take time – make time – for meditation, prayer, reading, relaxing.
  9. It’s okay to say “no” to one-too-many invitations.
  10. Last, but not least, appreciate family, friends and the real meaning of the season.

One final option to managing holiday stress – consider doing something nice for someone else. There are lots of ways to volunteer, donate, and offer kindnesses to others who may be less fortunate. Individuals, groups, and families can help out at food banks, nursing homes, homeless shelters – the list is endless. There are a lot of people who could benefit from your smile, and there is a 100% guarantee that you will feel good about helping someone else.

Stress happens, especially this time of year. It’s not always easy to reduce the stress in our lives– so the opportunity lies in finding healthy ways to manage the stressors. The above suggestions are just a few common-sense ideas for managing the stressors of the holidays, but these ideas can be used at any time of the year.

Karen Williams, LIMHP
Karen Williams, LIMHP

Karen Williams, LIMHP is a Mental Health provider at CHI Health.

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