By Linda G. Ritchie, Ph.D.
The holiday season is supposed to be a time of joy and celebration; a time to celebrate with family and friends. Yet, for many of us, it can be a time where the demands of shopping, cleaning, baking and entertaining can be overwhelmingly demanding. Research indicates that over 80 percent of Americans experience moderate to severe stress during the holiday period. Here are a few handy tips for helping you relieve stress associated with the holidays and spend more time enjoying life.
1.Be realistic. Don’t expect your holidays to look like a TV special. Realize you don’t have the coordinating staff (cooks, art director, music director, lighting specialists, actors to say and do exactly as you tell them, etc.) to pull this off. Be understanding and accepting if plans go awry. Avoid being a perfectionist.
2.Spend within your means. Decide how much money you can afford to spend for things such as gifts, entertaining and travel before you move into the holiday season. Set a budget and stick to it.
3.Adopt an attitude of acceptance. Set aside your differences with others. Make a commitment to yourself to accept family members and friends as they are and give up the expectation that they will behave the way you would like for them to.Families are constantly changing and growing. Be open to accepting changes in the traditions and rituals of the holidays.
4.Say no. Trying to do too much is a classic mistake. Recognize your limitations and stay within them. Trying to participate in every activity or attend every party or gathering can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Manage your time to maintain your health.
5.Get plenty of sleep. A lack of sleep can interfere with your ability to manage stress effectively, and when you can’t manage stress effectively, you can’t sleep. It can become a vicious cycle. Get at least 7 or 8 hours of sleep per night. If you are well rested, you will be better prepared to deal with whatever stressors the day may bring.
6.Eat healthy. Eating healthy during the holiday period is challenging as there is typically an abundance of food everywhere we turn. Eat, drink and be merry – but do it in moderation.
7.Seek professional help if needed. If you find that despite your best efforts, you are feeling depressed and overwhelmed, can’t sleep or are experiencing unusual physical complaints, talk to your physician or a mental health care professional.