Seven tips to de-stress during the holidays

Excited about the holidays?

We all know how we’re supposed to respond to that question – “Of course!” But the fact is, as much as we love spending time with family and friends and all our traditional holiday activities, many of us, especially parents, are a bit stressed out.

A poll by the American Psychological Association showed more than eight out of 10 Americans anticipate stress during the holiday season. Households with children were more likely to report anticipating stress during the holidays than those without, and one-third expected stress due to pressure to buy gifts or because of too many things to do.

Trying to find the time to juggle shopping, events and work/ family commitments can be a bit overwhelming. The key to wellness – at work and at home – is to find healthy ways to minimize and manage your stress.

Since list-making has been a holiday tradition as old as Santa, here’s one you might want to check out, maybe twice, to prevent stress from spoiling your joy this season.

Decide what is truly important. Good relationships with family and friends are always at the top of most lists, so view the holidays as a time to reconnect with people. Other priorities might include preserving traditions (or starting new ones) for your children or attending church services or musical events.

Establish an organized plan – and stick to it! Start your shopping as early as possible and create a realistic schedule for all your other tasks. Also establish a budget for gifts and special occasions, and track your spending.  Discuss gift-giving costs with all family members well before the holidays.

Set realistic expectations. The holidays are not the time to try to resolve long-standing family issue

Take the pledge to eat, drink and play in moderation. When stressed out, many of us overeat, caffeinate our nervous systems or drink to excess. Be aware of your own unhealthy coping mechanisms, particularly when you’re in uncomfortable situations or are overtired. Make a conscious effort to turn down that extra cookie, cup of coffee or glass of wine.s. Before getting together with family or relatives, anticipate and prepare for any difficulties. Don’t expect your family or relatives to change their personalities, and don’t bring up old family quarrels.

Relax. I know, it’s easier said than done.  Create some time alone for yourself to reflect on what you cherish most about the holidays.  Even if you just take a few minutes to pause and take some deep breaths can help you reconnect with yourself.

Exercise. You may not have the time every day to keep to your regular routine. But it’s always better to get some physical activity, even if just for 15 – 20 minutes.

Share responsibilities. Often one person in a family (or workplace, for that matter) seems to get stuck doing almost all of the work. Sound familiar? Then delegate! For example, if hosting the family holiday dinner is one of your great joys, then enlist help with the cooking and the cleanup. Asking for and receiving help and support from those who care about you will help alleviate your stress and elevate your mood.

Sleep! Rest is one of the gifts you can give to yourself at any time. Also be aware that alcohol can really interfere with the quality of your sleep and add to stress.

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