To Your Health: Tips for handling holiday stress

Support Local Journalism


By Lauren Strouse Special to the Express The holidays can be a stressful time. They often present an array of demands such as parties, shopping, finding the perfect gifts, baking, cleaning and entertaining, as well as a sense of obligation to create the perfect holiday or to be “joyful” even if we aren’t feeling joyful. For some, this is a time when feelings of sadness, loneliness and anger can intensify when contrasted with the joy expected of the holidays. There are ways to cope, however, to try to prevent stress and depression in the first place: Acknowledge your feelings. If you have experienced the loss of a loved one or can’t be with loved ones during the holidays, realize that feelings of sadness and grief are normal and OK. Don’t try to force yourself to be happy or to engage in activities you really don’t feel like engaging in. Do reach out. Seek out community, religious or other social events that can offer support and companionship or volunteer your time to help others. Sometimes helping others makes us forget our own sadness or loneliness. Be realistic. Try not to put pressure on yourself to create the “perfect” holiday for your family. Focus on traditions that make the holidays special for you. Give up old traditions and create new ones, especially if the composition of your family has changed in some way. Lower your expectations. Buy prepared foods instead of making everything homemade. Remind yourself that family problems don’t disappear just because it is the holiday season. Be flexible and prepared to adapt, set limits on your time at events and visits if they are stressful. Know your spending limit, set a budget and stick to it. Ask ahead what people would really like. Don’t try to buy happiness with an avalanche of gifts. Consider making something personal or donating to charity rather than buying “things.” Plan ahead. Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, visiting friends and family; plan menus, make shopping lists, ask for others to contribute; being organized helps reduce those frazzled feelings. Learn to say no. It is OK to say “no” to events that are really not important to you. This will reduce feelings of resentment. Stick with your daily routines. Keep a regular sleep, meal and exercise schedule. Limit alcohol consumption and over-eating. Go outside and take a walk. Sunlight helps stimulate production of serotonin, the feel-good hormone. The rhythm and repetition of walking helps decrease anxiety and improves sleep says Ann Kulze, MD, of the Mayo Clinic, who also recommends trying to get a half hour walk every day. Take a whiff of citrus. Researchers studying depression have found that certain citrus fragrances boost feelings of well-being and alleviate stress by upping levels of norepinephrine, a hormone that affects mood. Simplify. Don’t overschedule yourself. Simplify commitments and traditions. Allow time for yourself. Seek professional help if you need it. Despite your best efforts if you find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious; unable to sleep, irritable, hopeless and unable to face routine chores, talk to your doctor or mental health professional. Lauren Strouse is Solano Office and Volunteer Coordinator at Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano, a partner of Solano Coalition for Better Health.]]>

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Previous Article

Se necesitan conductores y voluntarios para la Cena de Acción de Gracias 2019 de la Comunidad de Winters

Next Article

Winters not currently included in potential PSPS that could affect Yolo communities

Related Posts