Welcome to the holiday season—a whirlwind of gift-giving, marketing blitzes, holiday parties, family, parking lots and many activities that begin right after Halloween, build to Thanksgiving and continue gaining momentum through the end of the year. While this season is meant to bring feelings of love and cheer, it also brings holiday stress for many. In fact, more than 80% of us find the holiday season to be somewhat or very stressful. Since holiday stress is predictable, we can prepare ourselves for it and practice the following guidelines:
1. Upon awakening, focus on the meaning of the holidays, the joy you can give to others and the positive things in your life you can be grateful for.
2. At the first signs of anxiety or stress, take a deep breath and release negative thoughts and frustrations. Utilize this technique often and especially when waiting in lines, in traffic or in parking lots.
3. Organize your time and days. Have all your shopping done early so you don’t put excessive pressure on yourself or others.
4. Don’t wait until you are about to explode before talking about the stress you are experiencing. Talk to friends or family, or seek professional help. Don’t worry; know that everything will work out.
5. Use your sense of humor, have fun and smile. A smile reduces stress by sending a message to the brain that everything is okay.
6. RELAX on a daily basis. Take a bath, exercise, listen to relaxing music, daydream about a relaxing or peaceful experience or mentally relax all the muscles in your body.
7. Be good to yourself. Get plenty of sleep and use moderation in your eating, drinking and social commitments.
8. Do the best with the funds you can afford. The price of your gift is not as important as your caring and loving thoughts. Give a gift of yourself or of your time.
9. When confronting a stressful situation, remember you are in control and can choose your response. Take a deep breath, release all negativity and remember the essence of the holidays.
10. Connect with your own spirituality and extend it to others. Be an example.
Jeff Gero, Ph.D., is a stress management specialist and coach. He can be reached at 818.879.1373.