5 tips to reduce holiday stress
Stress. It’s inevitable. We all experience it. But, according to the American Psychological Association (APA), people who are already under severe stress may be especially vulnerable to increased stress during the holidays.
The APA suggests that you view the holidays as an opportunity to improve your mental and psychological health. But how can you find time in your already busy schedule to make time for you and your health and keep your stress levels in check?
Plan and prepare
Being prepared can help reduce the extra stress. Dr. Tony Hampton, a family medicine physician with the Advocate Medical Group, says there are a few things you can do to keep stress at a minimum:
- Make a to-do list – Don’t forget to include regular tasks like picking up dry-cleaning or going to a dental appointment.
- Set a budget and stick to it – Know who you need to buy gifts for and how much you can spend on each.
- Limit social activities – Decide which are most important, and politely decline the rest.
- Schedule free time for yourself – This is probably the most important tip. Relax, rest, and recharge in whatever way works for you. Exercise? Yoga? Massage? Meditation? Music? Baking? Laughter? Reality TV? It doesn’t matter, as long as it gives you some YOU time.
- Have realistic goals – Don’t expect perfection – from yourself or anyone else.
Dr. Hampton reminds us what we’ve all heard numerous times: “You can’t always change the situations, but you can change how you react to them.”
But he also knows that changing your reactions can be easier said than done and requires focused effort. So how can you program yourself to react to stress in a healthier way?
According to Psychcentral.com, it’s important to accept these types of negative, stressful situations for what they are – inconvenient and unpleasant, but also temporary. Dr. Hampton agrees, and suggests that, instead of letting negative thoughts take over, find the positives.
So this year, when chaos seems to be reigning, Dr. Hampton suggests taking a deep breath and remember that you have a choice about how to react.
“You are in control of the way you handle the inevitable stressors that always accompany the holidays,” he says. “And don’t forget to laugh. It really is the best medicine.”
About the Author
health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.