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Holiday Stress
Dec 15th, 2011 Headlines

Ads call the holidays the “most wonderful time of the year, hospital ” but it does take a taxing toll on many.

What causes holiday stress? People usually eat, drink, and spend too much money during this time of year.  In addition, the holidays are filled with so many activities like shopping, cooking, and partying. After all is said and done, you can end up feeling frazzled.  This is a time for big family gatherings, which aren’t always all fun and games.  For those people who don’t see family, it can also be a very lonely time of year.

Whether it is the holidays or not, chronic stress can increase your risk for a wide variety of health problems. These problems include high blood pressure, heart disease, skin disorders, stomach problems, anxiety, depression, and insomnia. Adding holiday stress on top of chronic stress, therefore, certainly does not help matters.

Try to reduce your emotional stress by recognizing that you are actually feeling it. Understand that if you’ve lost a loved one, it is normal to feel sad this time of year. It is okay to cry and express your feelings.  Don’t put pressure on yourself to feel giddy and festive just because it’s the holidays.  Also, if you are feeling lonely or isolated, reach out to family, friends, your church, or community organizations.  Volunteering can also lift your spirits and get you out with other people.

As for the financial stress: before you go gift and food shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend. Make sure to stick to your budget. Don’t try to buy happiness with tons of gifts, or gifts you can’t afford.  Instead of buying for everyone in your family, play “Secret Santa” to help contain costs.  Perhaps, just buy for the children in the family.

The holidays bring out the perfectionist in a lot of us, so make a firm effort to realize you don’t have to be perfect.  Do the best you can, but don’t expect everything to be just right.  While you can plan ahead and make lists, be realistic about what you can get over the next couple of weeks.  Try to maintain some family traditions but be open to trying others, as well.

While holiday shopping is a headache in itself, eating is also such a challenge during this time of the year. When it comes to cookies, candy, fruit and nut cakes, eggnog, and alcohol, we will certainly eat too much of it.  Not to mention the turkey, roasts, hams, and all the fixings that we had a few weeks ago. They will undoubtedly be on the Christmas menu, too.

So, what can we do to keep from eating too much? Don’t go to parties feeling hungry.  Watch your portion control and practice mindfulness.  Don’t indulge. Instead, have a sample or portion.  In addition, don’t forget to exercise. This will help reduce your stress and keep your weight off too!

If you are in a desperate need of a break, give yourself a time out! Take care of yourself, so you can take care of others and manage the chaos.  Spend some alone time: read a book, get a massage, listen to your favorite music, or go for a walk.  You’re going need to recharge your batteries at some point, so that you can get all of your holiday chores done successfully!

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