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Holiday Stress

Holiday stress is a problem.  For many people, the joys of the holidays must be tempered with the stress and anxiety that often comes along with them. Shopping, planning, traveling, and spending time with family members we don’t see often can all take a toll on our emotions and mood, so it’s important to learn ways to de-stress and avoid the tense moments that lead to headaches, depression, substance abuse, and exhaustion.

Before the holidays are upon you, sit down and make lists that will aid you during the busiest weeks.

Grocery shopping should be on one list, while gift shopping should take up another. Get out your calendar and write in times for travel, getting the dog booked for boarding, and/or times that family members will be arriving, and get organized so that when it comes time to pack, you won’t be anxious about leaving anything important behind. Having these tangible lists in front of you can go a long way towards saving your sanity when you suddenly find you have twelve things to do and very little time to do them in.

Here are the best ways to keep your holidays as stress-free as possible.

Plan, plan, plan

Figure out how much time you’ll be able to devote to one thing and write it down. Organize each day with time spent on particular chores or commitments so you’ll know what needs to get done and when. Keep a planner or notebook with all your lists, travel arrangements, important phone numbers, and anything else you’ll need over the holidays so they’ll all be in one place. Don’t be afraid to plan out even mundane things–such as grocery shopping–because you don’t want to end up overextended. Don’t forget to plan for time spent in traffic, as well.  Planning is one of the best ways to reduce holiday stress.

Ask for help

Whether you’re throwing a holiday party, putting up guests for a couple of nights, or will be responsible for bringing the most popular dish to the company get-together, it’s okay to admit that you can’t do everything yourself. Ask a friend or coworker for help, or offer to exchange your services. This will take some of the burden off your shoulders and allow you to allot time to each of your commitments.  Connecting with people and asking for help is a great way to reduce holiday stress.

Take the pressure off gift-giving

Many of us stress over buying the right gift, especially if it’s for someone we don’t know well, such as a coworker. The holidays can be a difficult time for most people when it comes to finances, so don’t put added stress on yourself agonizing over what to buy. Most people seem to have a particular fandom these days–such as Harry Potter, horror movies, or video games–so find out what they like and head to Etsy, where you can search for unique, handmade gifts that won’t break the bank.

Get outside

If you’re feeling the effects of stress and anxiety, get outside. The sunshine and fresh air will do you a world of good, and studies have shown that a brisk, half-hour walk will help you sleep better and improve your mood.

“The rhythm and repetition of walking has a tranquilizing effect on your brain, and it decreases anxiety and improves sleep,” nutrition-and-wellness expert Dr. Ann Kulze says.

Walking and exercise will help you reduce holiday stress.

About the Author

Jennifer Scott knows how difficult it can be to live with anxiety and depression. She has experienced both since she was in her teens. Today, she writes about the ups and downs of her mental illness on SpiritFinder.org. The blog serves as both a source of information for people with mental illness and a forum where those living with anxiety and depression can come together to discuss their experiences.

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