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David Morgan
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Coping with Holiday Stress

December 16, 2015 - Public Relations - Information

As we’ve all noticed at one point or another, holidays don’t necessarily come with a vacation; in fact, they tend to come with their own “to‐do” lists. In fact, they often include their own unique brand of stress.

Sure, not all stress is bad stress. Stress helps us develop skills needed to manage potentially tough times, but it can also be harmful, however, when it lasts long enough or is severe enough to make us feel overwhelmed and out of control.

When we’re stressed, we know it. Among its symptoms listed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is tension, irritability, fear, anxiety, anger, nightmares, crying, headaches, body aches and more.

Here we are days away from Christmas, a holiday where so many of us tend have higher expectations than any other time of the year. Truth is the reality of day‐to‐day life can get in the way of our efforts to make the holiday season perfect so it any wonder we’re not a bit wound up?

The best ways to manage stress in hard times are through self‐care. The CDC and the New Mexico Department of Health recommend the following ways to take care of yourself this holiday season:

  • Acknowledge your feelings. For example, if someone close to you has recently died or you can't be with loved ones, realize that it's normal to feel sadness and grief. It's ok to take time to cry or express your feelings. You can't force yourself to be happy just because it's the holiday season.
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol. Too often they’re seen as a temporary fix to feel better, but in the long run they can create more problems and add to your stress—instead of taking it away.
  • Stick to a budget. Before you go gift and food shopping, decide how much money you can
    afford to spend. Then stick to your budget. Don't try to buy happiness with an avalanche of gifts.
  • Find support. Seek help from a partner, family member, friend, counselor, doctor, orclergyperson. Having someone with a sympathetic, listening ear and sharing about yourproblems and stress really can lighten the burden.
  • Connect with the world around you. After a stressful event, it is easy isolate yourself. Make sure that you are spending time with loved ones. Consider planning fun activities with your partner, children, or friends.
  • Take care of yourself. That means eating a healthy, well‐balanced diet, exercising regularly, getting plenty of sleep, even trying to maintain a normal routine. Even consider giving yourself a break if you feel stressed out—for example, treat yourself to a therapeutic massage.
  • Don't abandon healthy habits. Don't let the holidays become a free‐for‐all. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt.
  • Stay active. You can take your mind off your problems with activities like helping a neighbor, volunteering in the community, and taking the dog on a long walk. These can be positive ways to cope with stressful feelings.
  • Seek professional help if you need it. If your stress lasts for a while or takes a physical or mental toll on you, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional.

Don't let the holidays become something you dread. Instead, take these steps to prevent the stress and depression that can hit anyone of us anytime during the holidays.

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