D Smith: Reduce the holiday season stress

The pressure of shopping, socializing, organizing family events and the expense of buying gifts and food contributes to a stressful month.

Christmas and the holiday season is one of our most stressed times of the year.

We all want to be happy and to share the spirit of giving and taking care of others during this festive season.

However, the pressure of shopping, extra socializing, organizing family events and the expense of buying gifts and food contributes to a stressful month.

There are ways to manage stress. Take the time to become more self aware of events that contribute to stress and take steps to reduce and hopefully eliminate the stress in your life.

Self awareness techniques help reduce stress. We can take the time to review how we can become more self aware to move towards a healthy lifestyle.

Take time to relax. Step away from the constant to do list.  Once you distance yourself from your “to do list” this list should become easier to manage.

If you find you are too busy this holiday season, find ways to take more control of your daily activities. If holiday baking is making you stressful, buy the holiday baking you need.

When baking during the holiday season is part of your family holiday tradition and you find this relaxing and enjoyable, then make baking one of your priorities.

While shopping can be fun when done in short bursts of time, shopping when tired or hungry can be a frustrating experience. Your family and friends do not want you to spend your time and energy in a frustrating consuming event you do not enjoy. You can choose to limit gifts and limit your shopping trips.

Do not over spend—be realistic about your spending. Set a limit on the cost of presents and holiday spending.

If the stress of December makes you spend “money you do not have” then January will bring the stress of having to find the money to pay for December purchases, many of them already forgotten.

During this busy holiday season, take time for yourself.

If you prefer listening to music, then put the music on and dance around the room, if you prefer visual images to help relax, look at images; if you prefer exercise, go for a walk, a skate or a toboggan ride.

You can choose to do a calming or stretching exercise, such as yoga or tai-chi. Learn to become more playful. Humour and laughter can keep you young.

After a good laugh you will see the bright side of a situation. Watch a funny movie, read a light hearted book and hang with happy people—you will be amazed at how young you feel.

Don’t expect everyone to get along this holiday season; don’t expect miracles. If the family dynamics are not good during the year, expect some tension at Christmas gatherings. Avoid touchy subjects.  Try and keep family events full of fun activities to do.

Get enough sleep. Try to be moderate in all things you do. Eat drink and party in moderation.

Remember to exercise and relax every chance you get. Enjoy this holiday season—happy holidays!

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