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Tips for Coping with Holiday Stress

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The holiday season can be a time of excitement, festivities and promise. In reality, with this time of year comes increased stress. The loss of a loved one, financial difficulties, strained family relationships and hectic schedules contribute to elevating stress levels. A few simple tips can help you minimize holiday stress.

Be realistic

Let go of unrealistic expectations, especially the desire for perfection. It is okay if the popovers don’t pop or the gravy has lumps. Focus on the people you love. It is the time spent together that matters most, not if your holiday dinner looks like a Bon Appetit cover page.

Take stock of your personal expectations of the holidays. Make sure that your expectations are realistic. This time of the year is no different than any other. If your inner experience contrasts with what is being hyped, trust your own instincts. Do not try to be what you are not. Keep your normal routine for these days will pass.

Keep expectations manageable

Set realistic goals, pace yourself and prioritize important activities to best manage your time. Choose the activities that you enjoy and accept the invitations that will bring you pleasure. Don’t spend the holiday season fulfilling obligations and doing what you think others want you to do. Don’t overextend yourself or your family. Take time to relax.

Set a holiday budget

Loss of income is a stress factor all year long. Financial difficulties add to stress during the holiday season. Set a holiday budget and don’t equate love with the cost and quantity of gifts. Shop early and take advantage of sales. Make gifts, such as homemade cookies and jams. Offer your services, such as babysitting, mowing the lawn or helping with household chores in lieu of a purchased gift.

Teach your children to be realistic. It is okay to tell them that a gift is too expensive. Tell them that you, and even Santa Claus, have limited funds. Guide them in choosing one or a few gifts that fit into your budget. Take this opportunity to teach your children that their wishes are not everyone’s command and to curb their desire for immediate gratification.

Reach out to others

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Wonderful suggestions Maryann!
Thanks for sharing.
Sometimes it is the difficult family members who are clueless about their impact on others. I have taken the approach of humor and if humor doesn't work disengage.

November 21, 2011 - 3:19pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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