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Three Strategies for Effectively Managing and Reducing your Holiday Stress

Nov. 22, 2016 at midnight

For a kid, the holiday season is the most magical time of year. For most adults, it's the most stressful time of year. Shuffling to and from holiday parties, hours in the kitchen preparing elaborate meals, interactions with difficult family members, and the pressure of finding the perfect gift for everybody on your list can have a detrimental effect on your physical and mental health, making it difficult to actually enjoy the holidays. These effects include difficulty sleeping, headaches, upset stomach, and anxiety, which can lead to irritability, difficulty focusing on tasks, and worsened symptoms of diabetes, depression, asthma, and arthritis in individuals suffering from these conditions.

This year, take control and reduce your holiday stress through the following three strategies.

Exercise Regularly

Although your schedule can feel congested during the holiday season, do not let it interfere with your regular exercise schedule. Exercising helps us maintain our muscle mass and cut down on fat, both of which are important components to maintaining a healthy weight. Exercise also releases endorphins, which are your body's natural stress fighters.

Make Time for Yourself

A lot of the holiday-related stress we feel comes from working too hard to meet others' needs while ignoring our own. This holiday season, remember that your own needs are as important as your loved ones' needs. If you're asked to help with a task like setting up your office party or preparing a meal and you don't feel like you can take on the task, do not be afraid to decline.

In the time that you make for yourself, do an activity that you enjoy. This could be working on one of your hobbies, reading, spending time with friends or a pet, or even simply savoring a few hours alone. Never underestimate the value of self care. If your own needs are not met, you cannot effectively help others meet theirs.

Find a Relaxation Technique that Works for You

Relaxation techniques vary widely and include practices like mediation, massage, deep breathing, and yoga. What is important is that you find one that helps you relax and reduce your tension. For example, yoga is not a stress reducer for everybody. While some individuals derive a great amount of satisfaction and stress reduction from doing yoga, others only become more stressed by contorting their bodies into the required poses and keeping up with the pace of a yoga class. If you find that one relaxation technique doesn't work for you, try another. It might take you a few tries to find one that "clicks."

It is important that you find healthy, productive ways to manage your stress this holiday season. You might find short-term relief in alcohol and other drugs or certain comfort foods, but these can often lead to new difficulties like weight gain and other physical issues that only perpetuate your cycle of stress. Don't try to "do it all" this year. Do what you can, and most importantly, what you want to do, to participate in the holiday season without overextending yourself.


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