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How to manage holiday stress

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From page A2 | December 04, 2013 | Leave Comment

We all get stressed during the holiday season for various reasons. Most of us just deal with whatever is pressing on us, and don’t think about what all the stress is doing to our bodies and brains.

When you are stressed, powerful chemicals, such as adenine, course through your system to help you battle whatever you are facing. The business of the holidays can make what would normally be a small issue into something much bigger. But there are always things you can do to manage your stress during the holiday rush:

Don’t overspend. One of the biggest stressors for the December holidays comes when we get the January bills. It has been a tough few years, most people are cutting back, and you may find that spending less just makes sense right now. If you feel that you have to go overboard to enjoy the holiday, you might need to rethink what this time of year is supposed to be all about. Giving from the heart is the truest gift we can offer. No amount of money is going to make up for the love that you can give to those you care about.

Enjoy every moment you can. For many of us, the holidays are the most wonderful time of the year. The trick is tuning into the good parts while learning to cope with the troublesome parts. We all have a choice as to how we allow ourselves to feel, and teaching yourself to take in the good while letting the bad roll off your back is a great gift to give to yourself. Don’t let the chaos get to you, and treasure the beauty and love that you find.

Take one minute a day to imagine yourself feeling totally relaxed on top of a majestic mountain, or picture a beach with the surf crashing, or you can go even deeper by imagining the smell of clear winter air and the sound of holiday music. Even if it’s only for a minute (you can take longer if you like), it will lower your heart rate and blood pressure and give you a feeling of peace.

Keep your energy balanced. If you aren’t enjoying the season, you might just be hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. A lot of people push themselves too hard at this time of year. A light snack and a power nap could be all you need to get you back in the mood. If there are personal things weighing on you, talk with your loved ones about what’s going on, and do your best not to let it bring you down. Instead, put your attention on the positive activities and people that are around you.

You don’t have to be a Santa-holic to enjoy the holidays. Don’t do things that you know will stress you out. Allow the true meaning of the season to flow into your heart and head.

Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist in Westlake Village, is the author of “The Happy Couple – How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time.” Email him at Barton@BartonGoldsmith.com. 

Barton Goldsmith

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