How to Reduce Stress during the Holidays

This post was written by Karen Halm, Manager of Cardiac Rehabilitation at Abington – Jefferson Health.

November has arrived and I can smell the pumpkin pie baking! While the next couple months are full of festive cheer, they are also full of “best of the season” sales, crowded stores with long lines and desperate tries to find a parking spot within a two-mile radius of your destination. This time of year, especially, brings a special treat to pretty much everyone—STRESS.

Bringing together family, friends, food and libation creates fun gatherings, but let’s face it, these gatherings also invite stress into your life. In a limited amount of time we must plan, execute and host holiday gatherings, including cooking elegant meals with the added pressure of making sure everyone is happy.

Take a deep breath with me and read on for seven ways to decrease your stress and increase your enjoyment for the upcoming holiday season.

  1. Continue with your normal exercise regimen. Your body is accustomed to that workout and it leaves you energized to enjoy the many activities associated with the holidays.
  2. Schedule your activities and set priorities. Stress occurs when we try to squeeze too many activities into a short period of time. Create a list of all your must-do holiday happenings and spread them out throughout the season. No one can enjoy the holidays if they are burnt out,
  3. Delegate to other. Don’t try to do it all yourself. Make the holiday prep-time more fun by letting others help. It will save you time and frustration, and make everyone feel included.
  4. Perhaps it is time to “scale-down” this year. Don’t go overboard to please everyone throughout the season. You do not have to attend every event, nor invite the entire northeast corridor to your holiday parties. Spend time relaxing and enjoying the season, not rushing and attempting perfection.
  5. Avoid conflict and confrontations. If someone irritates you, extend a peace offering, share a few kind words and then move on to enjoy the company of others.
  6. Spend time with loved ones. The holiday season may not be the “most wonderful time of the year” for everyone. Along with stress there may be sadness, loneliness, and depression. We can assist those friends and family by spending time with them and including them in the holiday-related event, or with a quiet chat over lunch or a cup of tea. The greatest gift we can give is our time.
  7. Shop the least crowded times in the malls and stores. Head to the mall early in the morning and avoid those “big” shopping days which draw crowds of people. If you know this is a source of stress in your life, you can always shop online from home or from catalogues or go with the ever fail-safe option: gift cards.

Make this the best “no stress” season by exercising, delegating, sharing, not over-indulging and relaxing so you can enjoy every minute. Bring on the holidays!

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