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Managing Holiday Stress Managing Holiday Stress
Like it or not the holiday season has arrived and with it the constant barrage of marketing "buy this, no buy that" as well... Managing Holiday Stress

by Kimberly Allen, RN

Like it or not the holiday season has arrived and with it the constant barrage of marketing “buy this, no buy that” as well as all the holiday parties, activities and to do lists that keep us running through til the New Year.  Most of the time our expectations for the holidays are much higher than at any other time in the year.  the shopping, planning, and lists as well as the anticipation of spending time with our friends and loved ones can leave us feeling frustrated, cranky and impatient.  For some people the stress of the holidays can turn this season that is intended to bring feelings of love and happiness to one of depression and anxiety.  A recent “holiday stress pole” indicated that more than 8 out of 10 American’s expected their stress to increase over the holiday season and that 76%  of American’s stat money is their leading cause of holiday stress.
So why are we so stress out during the holidays?  The biggest reason is we try to do too much.  You don’t want to offend anyone so you accept all those holiday party invitations.  Then there’s the shopping and gift giving.  this time of year our stores, streets, and airwaves are bombarding us with the newest and best toys and gadgets available and it seems like our children want one of everything.
The first step in learning to manage your holiday stress is to ask yourself , “do I have realistic expectations for the holidays?”  What do you expect from not only oyrself but your family as well.  Then set expectations.  Wioth the current economy money is an issue for many families.  Don’t be afraid to talk to your children about their expectations for gifts and other holiday related activities.  If money is an issue be honest about the sdituation especially with older children.  Be realistic, son’t overwhelm yourself with goals that are just too far out of reach.  It’s important to keep things in perspective and teach your children the importance of keeping things in perspective.
Along with all the party invitations comes the eating and drinking too much to go with the shopping too much.  Holiday parties are loaded with lots of enticing finger foods, along with rich desserts and alcohol.  The consequences of over indulging can lead to increased stress that lasts longer than the holidays, like excess weight gain and memories of doing thing you normally wouldn’t do while under the influence of too much alcohol as well as debt.
Family time also increases some peoples stress over the holidays. Extended families usually gather spending time together during the holidays and though this can be a good thing you can over dose on the togetherness making it difficult for everyone to maintain a balance. Remember to take time for yourself.  Participate in activities that you enjoy and find relaxing.
While some people become severely stressed over family get togethers others don’t have family to get together.  For many people, being alone is the problem.  They either don’t have any family or are along way from their family and it’s not possible to be together for the holidays.  This can bring on depression and anxiety as well as stress.
The holidays are a great time to reconnect with old friends and spend time with new friends and the people around you.  Volunteer at a local charity and/or helping out others in need are great ways to connect with others people. Remember the old saying “everything in moderation”  can help you to have a happier, healthier and less stressful holiday season.  Though it’s not always easy the holdiday seasoncomes once a year and the temptation to over do, over indulge, and over spend can be overwhelming.  Howeverl of you keep reminding yourself “moderation” you can significantly reduce your holiday stress.

Kimberly Allen is a registered nurse with an AND in nursing. She has worked in ACF, LCF and psychiatric facilities, although she spent most of her career as a home health expert. She is now a regular contributor to, dispensing advice and knowledge about medical issues and questions. You can reach her with any comments or questions at