Jennifer Ackrish, Psy.D., Licensed Psychologist

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7 Health Ways to Cope with Holiday Stress

Posted on November 20, 2014 at 3:55 PM

The holidays can be a stressful time for many Americans. According to the American Psychiatric Association approximatley 8 out of every 10 Americans anticipate increased stress during the holiday season. Here are 7 healthy ways to cope with stress this holiday season:


1. Set healthy expectations for yourself and others

• Many of my clients tell me they want to create the "perfect" holiday for their family. We all know there is no such thing as perfection and when we strive for it we are often left feeling disappointed.

• Focus on doing your best and enjoying quality time with the ones you love.


2. Acknowledge your feelings and express them at appropriate times

• Give yourself permission to feel sad or frustrated at times.

• Just because it is the holidays does not mean you have to be happy go lucky all the time.

• The holidays can be a sad time for people for many different reasons:

o Recent loss of a family member

o Negative self-evaluation

o Loss of a relationship

• It is helpful to share something that is heavily weighing on you

o I recommend sharing this type of information before major holiday events. Sharing this information will provide you some relief and family and friends will likely be more receptive and supportive when they are not at a large family gathering.


3. Plan ahead!

• Start your holiday shopping as soon as possible!

o You will get better bargains and have more selection.

o Most importantly you will experience LESS STRESS!

• Make to do lists

o To do lists help keep you on track.

o And it just feels so good checking each item off the list!:)

• Holiday Meals

o Plan what you will be making and delegate what others should make ahead of time.

o Buy non-perishable items before the event.

• Decorating

o Decorate your home weeks before hosting any events.

o If hosting a dinner party set the table the day before.

o Place Post-it notes where you want each food item to go.

• The more you do ahead of time the less stressed you will feel


4. Make a budget and stick to it!

• It is very easy to over spend during the holidays.

• In order to prevent over spending and getting yourself in financial trouble draw up a specific budget.

• Budget for gifts, parties and decorations.

• If money is really tight for you this holiday season consider giving homemade gifts. (Pinterest has some amazing ideas!)

o http://www.pinterest.com/search/pins/?q=homeade%20gifts&term_meta%5B%5D=homeade%7Ctyped&term_meta%5B%5D=gifts%7Ctyped


5. Don’t abandon healthy habits!

• During the holidays we are often surrounded by lots of indulgent foods and beverages.

• We also attend more social events then we typically do.

• To maintain your physical and mental health over the holidays:

o Consume rich foods in moderation

o Be mindful of portions

o Don’t abandon your exercise routine

o Eat meals. Do not starve yourself all day because you know you are going to a holiday dinner in the evening. You will end up over eating and will likely feel ill afterward.


6. Make some “me” time

• With the hustle and bustle of the holidays it is very easy to become exhausted and stressed out.

• Work to prevent this by taking at least 10 to 15 minutes a day to relax and recharge in whatever way you like.

o Examples: meditation, yoga, videogames, reading, etc


7. Seek professional help if you need it

• If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms you would likely benefit from the help of a mental health professional:

o Persistent sadness

o Feeling more anxious, irritable or on edge than usual

o Impaired occupational or social functioning

o Impacted sleep and or appetite

o Having suicidal thoughts


If you or a friend is struggling to cope with stress during the holiday season here are ways to find a professional who can help:

• Call Dr. Jennifer Ackrish for a FREE phone consultation

• Contact your insurance provider or visit their website to locate mental health providers in your area

• View Psychologists in your area by going to Psychology Today at www.psychologytoday.com

 

Click on these links for more information regarding coping with holiday stress:

http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/parents-holiday.aspx

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20047544

http://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/healthy_living/hic_Stress_Management_and_Emotional_Health/hic_Managing_Holiday_Stress

 

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