Saturday, December 12, 2009

How to Avoid Holiday Stress

The holidays can bring out the best in us. A peaceful snowfall, a twinkling star, and magical memories make us look forward to the holidays with fondness.

But for many of us, the holidays mean stress—and lots of it. Over-eating, over-shopping, over-spending, over-committing, and generally over-indulging can put you over the edge. Even seeing “beloved" family members can spark conflicting emotions and threaten the peace.

Consider these top holiday stressors from a 2004 survey by the American Psychological Association (APA):
  • Lack of money (61%)
  • Pressures of gift-giving (42%)
  • Lack of time (34%)
  • Credit card debt (23%)1
So resolve this holiday season to reduce and better manage your stress, and enjoy the holidays in good health!

See stress for what it is. It’s no wonder that 93% of Americans say that perceptions, thoughts, and choices affect physical health. How we perceive stressful events can set us up for health or harm.

Stress happens. Viewing normal life events as uncontrollable, personal attacks can drive up your blood pressure, and jeopardize your health. But seeing normal life events as—well, normal—empowers you to better manage stress for your health.

Eat, drink, and be merry—within reason. The holidays are meant for celebration, not overindulgence.

Exercise for your heart’s sake. When the stress seems overwhelming, take an exercise break. Just 30 minutes a day—a brisk walk, a run on the treadmill, or strength training—gives you a powerful tool to fend off stress.

Exercise not only helps you manage weight and is good for your body, but it can help you de-stress and clear your mind. And with a clear mind, you can make better decisions about what’s good for you this holiday season.

Rein in the shopping. Instead of searching out the latest gadget or this year’s “must have" toy....just stop. Limit your gift-giving to an important few. Stay home and shop on the Internet. Or go to the mall at the least busy times.

Better yet, give the gift that everyone treasures: time. Plan a family vacation, treat friends to dinner, take a little one to a favorite museum. Memories are not found in things, but in the time you spend with those you care about most.

Give unto others. Smile at a stranger, donate food and clothing, help at the homeless shelter, wrap presents for children who would otherwise have none. Take the focus off yourself and put the spotlight on someone else.

Get the attitude for gratitude. Make a list of everything you’re grateful for and add to it every day. It doesn’t have to be big, just meaningful. Holding a kitty, watching a sunset, giving someone a hand, keeping your sanity—just be thankful for the opportunity to live!

Make it real. Even though Hollywood has convinced us otherwise, Christmas is not about creating the perfect family holiday. It’s about enjoying what’s here and now. Keep expectations real, and don’t try to solve long term issues at the family dinner. Allow your gathering to have its own life—as individual and genuine as your family is - whatever that may be.

Remember the Reason we celebrate: Although I listed this last it is really the most important of all. The phrase we hear every year is so true and one we must keep in our hearts this time of year. "Jesus is the Reason for the Season". In a world and country that more and more is trying to make us forget what Christmas is all about and why we celebrate. Let us this year be more aware then ever and more vocal about it then ever that the reason that we celebrate Christmas is because we are celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus!

Many of these principles we already have applied to our lives during our 30 days of happiness challenge so we are more ready than ever to do them now when they will help us the most.

9An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christa]">[a] the Lord. 12This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." Luke 2:9-12

I borrowed a few points of this post from

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