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Seven tips to manage stress over the holidays

Posted November 22, 2016

1. Have an attitude of gratitude.

Making an effort to remember all of the things you’re grateful for is very important this time of year. Research has shown that taking time to express gratitude or even acknowledge thankfulness in our own thoughts increases well-being and creates positive feelings. Gratefulness can be the antidote to increased stressors of the holiday season.

2. Create a budget and stick to it.

Overspending at the holidays is a common experience that can add to your stress by creating financial pressures after the season is over. Make a plan before you go shopping about how much money you can afford to spend and then follow your budget. Remember, a mountain of gifts won’t create happiness.

3. Perfect the art of polite refusal.

It’s hard to say no, but saying “yes” to every holiday invitation and demand could leave you exhausted. Decide what matters most, whether it’s baking, seeing friends, volunteering, etc. When you know your priorities, it’s easier to say “no” when you’re aware of what you’re gaining in return. When saying no, always be honest, short and thankful.

4. Plan ahead.

There’s no rule that says everything needs to be handled right before a celebration. Stretching out holiday activities over a longer period of time can help reduce stress by alleviating time constraints. For things that do need to be done last minute, checklists can help keep you organized.

5. Take time for yourself.

Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, can refresh and rejuvenate. Clear your mind, slow your breathing and restore inner calm. Some options may include stargazing, listening to music, taking a bath, meditation or reading a good book.

6. Ask for help.

If you feel overwhelmed with all that you have to do, don’t hesitate to ask others for help. Doing it all yourself won’t make the holiday any better. If you’re not careful, you’ll miss out on enjoying the celebration. Be flexible in your plans, ask for and accept help from others, and remember Tip #7…

7. Set realistic expectations.

There are factors beyond your control that can negatively impact any celebration. Be prepared that things may not   turn out exactly the way you want or expect, and people may not act the way you want them to. Try to identify what you can and cannot change. Be realistic in what you have real power over, and try not to let what you don’t weigh too heavily on you.

David Brinkman-Sull, Ph.D.
Vice Chair of Psychiatry and Chief Psychologist
Summa Health Behavioral Health Institute


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