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Managing Holiday Stress

FA la la la la la la la la! The holidays are supposed to be a time of peace, love and joy for everyone. But if that’s true, then why do so many of us wind up wanting to deck someone instead of the tree?

We put so much pressure on ourselves to create the "perfect" family occasion – complete with lovely decorations, ideal gifts and sparkling parties (all documented on social media to show our “best” sides!) – that we wind up with a case of severe seasonal "blues" instead.

The end of the year brings all kinds of increased stress with the constant demands for shopping, parties and family reunions. You may need a snack for that party, a gorgeous side dish for another, a white elephant gift for the one party, and a nice gift for another, in addition to getting together with family.  And family may cause even more stress – a new in-law to add to the mix, the cranky uncle, the aunt who is never happy, etc.  Instead of feeling the joy of the season, you may start feeling blue.

If you deal with a chronic condition, such as diabetes, getting “blue” during the holidays can really impact your health.  Stress can cause your blood sugar to rise, or you may get off of your self-care pattern.  Depression or thinking about extra things can cause you to eat more, eat less, forget to take your medicines, forget to exercise, or forget to check your blood sugar. 

The holiday blues can strike anyone, even a joyful person! But you can find ways to help yourself avoid stress overload. Following are several tips for heading off the holiday "blues" before they hit:

  • Keep your plans realistic. Consider just how much time you really have and then give yourself permission to say NO! when your own demands – and those of others – get out of control.
  • Get organized.  Make a list of what you have to do and set priorities. 
  • Ask for help. Sharing tasks allows everyone to feel like a part of the celebration and fun. Say YES when someone offers to bring a dish, or just help with the dishes!
  • Resist comparisons. Your friends and relatives may be able to do or give more, but more isn’t always better!
  • Avoid overspending. With all the hype and hurry, it’s easy to get overextended. But when you spend more than you can afford, you prolong the stress of the holidays into the new year.
  • Get enough sleep!  A lack of sleep can make problems seem bigger than they are. Many people lose sleep during the holidays.  Women especially lose sleep if they are worried about hosting a party and getting the house in tip top shape.  Others lose sleep worrying about the financial stress of the holidays.
  • Make health and exercise a priority. You’ll be better able to cope with a more active schedule if you keep yourself healthy. And exercise not only allows you to sleep better, it also makes you more alert and efficient during the day.

The best way to deal with something that is causing you stress is to either change the stressor or change the way you react to it. 

So what can YOU do?  Take small steps to stay in charge of your life during the holidays.  Exercise, eat well, and choose wisely.  Don’t forget to sign up for updates One less thing to remember during the holidays – I’ll just email you when there is a new blog post!

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