Lifestyle

Surviving holiday stress | Dr. Gray

The holidays create more opportunities to spend time with friends and family as well as an undeniable amount of stress and expectation. Many of us feel pulled in too many directions with little or no time to accomplish the many tasks on our to-do list.

How can you survive the holidays, maintain your equilibrium and still enjoy yourself this holiday season? Here are a few suggestions to get you started.

• Manage your emotions. The holidays may bring up a whirlwind of feelings that goes back to our family of origin, including attitudes and traditions that still persist today. Take time to check in regularly with yourself regarding your emotional state and don’t be afraid to take a break if you are feeling overwhelmed. A self-imposed break from time to time may be just what you need to override any negative feelings that are hampering your holiday spirit.

• Get enough sleep. Surviving holiday celebrations, shopping and last-minute obligations are sometimes overwhelming. Don’t add sleep deprivation. Make a strong attempt to maintain a consistent sleep schedule. If more sleep would be beneficial by taking the edge off of a hectic or overly stressful day, then plan some extra time for sleep. Getting enough sleep boosts our immune system, preventing illness, and creating overall health.

• Focus on what you can control. Let go of what you can’t control. Remember to forgive yourself for all the rest. If the holiday dinner is a little burnt or there isn’t time to make the dessert, don’t despair. Focus on what is really important the opportunity to spend time together and rejoice in what you do have.

• Just say no. Do not spread yourself too thin with holiday celebrations and volunteer opportunities. Add the word "no" to your vocabulary and don’t be afraid to voice that two-letter word out loud. Selectively choose parties and activities that you have time for and want to participate in. Don’t over-commit.

• Eat healthy and exercise. During the holidays, most of us are bombarded with foods high in fat and sugar content. The key word is moderation. Enjoy your favorite holiday treats, but limit yourself to one serving and don’t forget to increase your workout regiment. Exercise is a great way to reduce stress and balance the extra caloric intake of holiday meals.

• Donate to charity. Donations do not have to be monetary. Take time to clean out the winter coats in the hall closet that no one wears anymore, locate the books and toys that the kids no longer play with and donate them to a charity where they will be put to good use. Take heart in the fact that you made someone else’s holiday that much better.

Make this holiday season even more enjoyable by managing your stress and taking time for yourself. A few small changes such as getting adequate sleep, eating healthy, exercising, donating to charity and making allowances for what is out of your realm of control will allow for a more fulfilling and pleasurable holiday season for you and your family.

Local charities

• YWCA: (253) 850-2181

• St. Vincent De Paul: (253) 833-2546

• Multi-Service Center: (253) 854-4406

• Domestic Abuse Women’s Network: (425) 656-4305

• Federal Way Goodwill: (253) 946-0447

• Catholic Community Services: (253) 854-0077

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