The lights, a tree, presents, kids behaving, cooking, eating, relatives! It's no wonder that during the holiday season we all tend to let ourselves get a bit stressed. This stress can lead to many complications, including hurting your relationships, your health and your ability to actually enjoy the holidays. The first thing to help you avoid stress is to recognize the symptoms of stress.
When you are stressed you may feel exhaustion, loss of/increased appetite, headaches, crying, sleeplessness, and oversleeping. Many people, especially during this seasons try to escape through alcohol, drugs, or other compulsive behavior. Stress may also lead to feelings of alarm, frustration, or apathy. All of this can ruin what is supposed to be an otherwise fun time of the year.
Here are a few ideas that might help deal with stress now and any other time, as well:
- Remove yourself from the stressful situation. Take a break for a few moments. If you are stressed out while shopping, for example, stop a while and watch others stress.
- Don't overwhelm yourself with too much. Take things one step at a time. For example, don't buy all the gifts at one time. Buy them one at a time. At least think of it as buying one gift at a time.
- Don't sweat the small stuff. Prioritize what you are doing and take each task in order. Not everything is a major issue, so be honest with yourself. Is decorating the house really more important than making sure you have the right gift for your significant other?
- Avoid extreme reactions. Someone "cutting in line" is really not something you should "go off on." Remember everyone is probably in the same stress as you. I'm not saying let everyone take advantage of you. Simply learn to react to the situation in a calm, logical manner. The word "hate" is a very extreme reaction.
- Get plenty of sleep. Your body needs sleep. Don't think, "I'll get more sleep later...after the holidays." It will never happen and once you've deprived the body of sleep, you've already done the damage.
- Finally, avoid self-medication for stress. This could include over drinking and overeating. Many people turn to drugs, alcohol and food to deal with stress. This could lead to add-on problems such as addiction, obesity, or alcoholism.
Yes, the holidays can be stressful, but if you remember the real reason we celebrate, begin to find ways to cope with stress, and understand your own reactions, stress can become managable. This is truly a season of caring, giving, loving, and family. Get over your stress and begin to love Christmas the way you did when you were a kid.