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Managing Holiday Stress

Welcome to the holiday season — that whirlwind of gift-giving holidays, marketing blitzes, holiday parties and activities galore. While this season is meant to bring feelings of love and cheer, it’s also the harbinger of holiday stress for many. In fact, according to studies more than 80% of us find the holiday season to be ‘somewhat’ or ‘very’ stressful.

Here are some tips for minimizing holiday stress:

Set Your Priorities
If you get overwhelmed by too many activities, it’s important to decide what traditions offer the most positive impact and eliminate the strays. For example, if you usually become overwhelmed by a flurry of baking, caroling, shopping, sending cards, visiting relatives and other activities that leave you exhausted by January, you may want to examine your priorities, pick a few favorites and really enjoy them while skipping the rest.

Cut Corners

If you can’t fathom the idea of skipping out on sending cards, baking, seeing people, and doing all of the stuff that usually runs you ragged, you may do better including all of these activities in your schedule, but on a smaller scale. Send cards, for example, but only to those with whom you maintain regular communication. Or, don’t include a personal note or letter in each one. Find a way to simplify.

Change Your Expectations For Togetherness
With family and friends, it’s important to be aware of your limitations. Think back to previous years and try to pinpoint how much togetherness you and your family can take before feeling negative stress. Can you limit the number of parties you attend or throw, or the time you spend at each? Can you limit your time with family to a smaller timeframe that will still feel special and joyous, without draining you?

For those who experience loneliness during the holidays, consider inviting a group of friends to your home. If virtually everyone you know is with family, however, you might consider volunteering to help those less fortunate than yourself. Many people report these experiences to be extremely fulfilling, and your focus will be on what you have rather than what you lack.

MOST IMPORTANTLY: breathe and sleep! Deep breaths and sufficient sleep can work miracles. Take time to do both; even just a ten-minute cool-down before or after  a big day.

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