Managing holiday stress

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How do you really manage all that stress during the holidays? I mean after Thanksgiving it’s seems as if there’s always more and more to do.

There’s the holiday get-togethers, the workplace parties, Kris Kringle and Secret Santa exchanges, the endless shopping for deals and sales and the perfect gifts for the kids, family and friends, the Christmas meals to prepare, decorations to put up (or switch out), the house guests to prepare for, and the New Year’s parties and celebrations to schedule. When does it stop?

Most people look forward to this time of year but not the stress that seems to accompany it. If you’re looking for some way to manage holiday stress and still enjoy the season, here are a few reminders.

1. Let bygones be bygones. Holiday get-togethers with family (or friends) aren’t the time to settle scores or bring up past grievances. If they bring up past hurts or issues, walk away. You can’t control others, only your reaction. Let it go and focus on why you’re there in the first place.

2. Be organized. With so much to do you might become overwhelmed if you don’t have a game plan. Set aside time for parties, shopping, cooking, decorating, grocery shopping—whatever it takes to help you prevent last-minute scrambling for … well, anything. It doesn’t have to be complicated either, just don’t overbook or spend all your time fulfilling obligations. You can’t do everything so set your priorities and remember to get enough sleep.

3. Penny-wise. Along with being organized comes the dreadful financial planning. But if done beforehand, you can prevent much of the after-holiday-overspending-blues. Decide in advance how much you’re really willing to spend and stick to your budget. And remember, gifts don’t have to be numerous or expensive to express your love and appreciation. Also, if you’re entertaining, it doesn’t have to be elaborate to have a good time. Have a pot-luck, use paper plates, and even buy prepared meals.

4. Remember to take care of yourself. Yes, it’s the holidays but that doesn’t mean you can eat and drink and overindulge without consequences. Get rest, exercise, and know your limits. Eat until you’re satisfied and not stuffed, and watch your beverage intake—too much alcohol acts as a depressant. Also, if you’re alone for the holidays, get out of the house and volunteer at soup kitchens, feed the homeless, and find opportunities to do community service. Helping others can be quite fulfilling and may alleviate your depression. 

What are some of the things you do to manage stress during the holidays? What would you add to this list?          

A journalist by trade, Corinne has written for both the military and civilian populations. She has a Master's in Writing and Bachelor's in English. She is also a military spouse and her family is currently stationed at Fort Hood.

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