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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Managing Stress During the Holidays

The holiday season can be one of enjoyment, connection and fun. It can also be a time of too much to do, too many places to go, and too many people to deal with leaving us tired, frustrated and even angry.
We can feel stress physically, spiritually, emotionally, socially and intellectually. The first step is to identify what the stressors are for us as individuals. We are all different and experience the same events differently. What is fun for one can be dreadful for another.

Judy Elwood, LMHC, MAC, NCC, an Employee Assistance Program Therapist and Case Manager for the Franciscan Alliance, Northern Indiana Region, offers the following tips on how you can better manage stress this holiday season:

Physical Stress
  • Take a short nap - more than 30 minutes and you won’t sleep well at night.
  • Get some exercise - even a brisk walk will help.
  • Take it easy on the rich, fatty, sweet foods that are prevalent during the holidays.
  • Increase portions of healthy food and decrease unhealthy food.
  • Slow down. You’ll actually accomplish more.
  • Breathe deeply.
  • Do things that are relaxing to you.
Spiritual Stress
  • Listen to sacred music of the season.
  • Say a prayer.
  • Think about the real reason for the season.
  • Attend worship.
  • Read uplifting, spiritual materials.
  • Help someone in need.
  • Give presents to those who have little.
Emotional Stress
  • Deal with your emotions in appropriate ways. Don’t push them aside.
  • Have a good cry, if needed.
  • Have a good laugh. Don’t take everything so seriously.
  • Listen to another’s troubles. Give them support.
  • Call a friend or family member if you feel lonely. Reach out to someone.
  • Don’t expect perfection from yourself or others whether it be decorating, cooking, baking, or even finding the "perfect" present.
Social Stress
  • Go to a party. Stay home if you’d rather.
  • Don’t do things mainly because you "should." Do things that are important to you and the family.
  • Start some new traditions but remember and celebrate the old traditions as well.
  • Share the work. Do it in a fun way.
  • Sing some carols while you work at all those holiday tasks.
  • Remember the "bartering" system. I’ll do this for you since I like doing it and you do this for me because you like it and I do not.
Intellectual Stress
  • Focus on a hobby or a good book to take a break from all the holiday "busyness."
  • Evaluate your goals.
  • Return the focus to what is important.
  • Enjoy the quiet of a starry winter night.
  • Go to bed early. You’ll think better tomorrow.
  • Have a lively discussion with friends or family.
  • Play a board game that requires strategy.
Got 5 Minutes? Take our Stress and Anxiety Assessment. At the end of the assessment you’ll receive:
  • An explanation of stress factors in your life
  • Tips for relaxing and reducing stress
  • Links to additional reading
For more information, read our in-depth report on Stress. >>

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