Eight Tips to Manage Stress During the Holidays
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Eight Tips to Manage Stress During the Holidays 
Holiday Stress can be a joyous fun time and for others it's the straw that breaks the camel's back. The holidays bring extra stress in addition to your already ongoing everyday stress. For this reason you are more apt to experience stress related issues such as headaches, hypertension, excessive eating, stomach problems, insomnia...

There are several things you can do to make sure the "camel's back" is not yours:

1. Maintain your physical balance. Holidays simply bring on additional challenges to an already challenged world which makes it easy to lose track of one's physical responses to stress. It might sound silly, but we forget to breathe deeply after we rush from store to store, we forget to let go of muscular tension after we race a stranger to a parking spot; and we forget to let go of vascular tension after we rush through a yellow light that just turned red. Holding onto these tensions simply increases our chances of having unhealthy responses to stress. To maintain your physical balance, do deep breathing. It helps your entire body relax. Do lots of deep breathing after the race to the parking spot, the rush through the red light, rushing from store to store... and remember to take a moment as you are going about to check to see if your shoulders are hunched and tense, or your jaw tight. Take a deep breadth and relax them. It's amazing how we often simply brace our bodies for no real reason at all--often it's simply a left over response from child hood years when we were uncertain if we were going to be physically assaulted by another child. 

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2. Maintain your emotional balance. During the holidays you will have exposure to additional emotional stress. You just missed the last game you wanted to buy for your son, had a disagreement with a sales clerk, are at loss as to what to get for you significant other... And don't forget the ongoing everyday stress at work. With all this, it's easy to feel overwhelmed with everything going on about you. 

And then there are the family gatherings which in some cases bring challenges of getting along with certain family members. It's important to remember that the time exposure is limited to a few hours or days at most. Yet, avoid selling yourself out. In other words, there is no need to grin and bear it. If there are uncomfortable feelings, avoid getting into blaming or rehashing the past--it's over and done with. Speak only from your experience and remember that any negative feelings you have are owned by you and are a result of your perceptions. It's often useful to agree to disagree as you may never perceive a situation the same as someone else. 

Emotions of frustration, confusion, uncertainty, and in some cases, anger and upset can pop up at any time.

And the holidays are not a happy time for many. Why? It could be the loss of a loved family member or friend.

What do you do with these extra feelings and emotions? Answer: The key is to acknowledge them and embrace them as opposed to denying them When you deny emotions they end up running your life in the form of anxieties, hypertension, stomach unrest, sleeplessness... 

Following are eight tips for a smooth holiday experience:

1. It's unfortunate that the cookies and cakes are often associated with the holidays. Thus it's more important than ever to maintain healthy eating habits--minimize coffee, foods high in sugar, candy, refined flour products like most baked goods... These foods tax your endocrine system magnifying your emotional reactions not to mention add pounds to your body over the holidays.

2. Maintain good sleep habits. It's tempting to stretch the awake time to get in all the shopping and responsibilities finished. A good night's sleep will leave you far more creative and effective in accomplishing your goals. 

3. Remember that the holidays are not a happy time for everyone--perhaps they lost a loved one during a past holiday. Be sensitive to the needs of others during what is a trying time for them. 

4. Before you emotionally react, take a deep breadth and count back from ten to one. It's true that this simple basic technique is very valuable for managing emotional stressors and may keep you from a useless disagreement.

5. Minimize your consumption of alcohol at holiday functions.--don't use them as an excuse to become inebriated. Awaking with a hang-over is not a fun way to spend the next day. 

6. Establish a budget to manage your finances. Plan your expenditures and resist the temptation of using the credit card excessively. Credit card companies love your patronage at holiday time. 

7. Don't expect to be Super Man or Wonder Woman. You are only one person with only 24 hours in a day--it's ok to say "no" to friends, family, and work associates if fulfilling their requests interferes with your exercise, eating, sleeping, financial status, and peace of mind.

8. If you find yourself being "under the weather," pamper yourself, take time off, take extra vitamins, and especially stay away from sugary foods, baked goods... By doing so you avoid further complications and maybe even hospitalization. 

Keep these eight tips in mind to thoroughly enjoy the holidays and manage holiday stress effectively. ________________________________________________________________________________

Resource Box:

Richard Kuhns B.S.Ch.E. NGH certified, a prominent figure in the personal change field. His goal is to provide all the tools one needs to successfully manage the physical reactions to stress during the Holiday Season.
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