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Creating a Stress Free Holiday Season

It’s quickly coming up on the annual holiday season.  It is the time for friends, families, gifting, eating, meeting and greeting.  It’s the best time of the year for retailers as they lure you in and tempt you with deals too good to resist!  While there is much joy and merry making during this period, often the time leading up to the holiday itself can be more stressful than usual for many.  The added financial pressure of gifting, the family dynamics both in your immediate family and in the extended family, social pressures and obligations to participate in activities are all typical leading into and throughout the holiday season.

Regular activities like sleeping, drinking plenty of water, eating a balanced diet and participating in daily exercise get replaced with parties, sweets or high fat seasonal treats and alcoholic drinks.  Surviving and even thriving through the holidays is possible when you pay attention to your basic needs and get additional support sooner rather than later should you require it.

Survival basics for the holidays include carving out time for you each day just to pause, breathe deeply and let yourself be still.  Even five minutes of ‘me time’ can do wonders to increase your stamina and perspective.

Maintain your regular eating patterns as best as you can during the holidays.  Enjoy treats and goodies in moderation and include leaner choices whenever possible.  Incorporate a glass or two of water between alcoholic drinks to support your body.

Keep your regular exercise schedule or include alternative activities like taking the stairs.  Perhaps start a new family tradition of going out for a short walk after each holiday meal to share a memory or time gone by.  Some movement is better than no movement.

Sleep.  It does a body good.  Make time in your plans and schedules so everyone in your family including you gets sufficient sleep.  Giving our bodies time to rest and recuperate from the day is one of the most important stress management techniques.

These may seem like obvious suggestions, and they are, since looking after your body supports mental functioning.  Insufficient sleep, nutrition and exercise all needlessly contribute to stress levels and each of these areas is within your control.

Finally, ask for and seek out the support you need from yourself, your family, support groups and mental health providers to create a peaceful stress-free holiday season. Your general practitioner can refer you to a psychologist or you can contact one directly to help you manage the stress and anxiety of the upcoming holiday season.