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Reducing Holiday Stress The holiday season is supposed to be a time of joy, family, friends and food. It’s supposed to be a time to spend with loved ones, reconnecting and having fun. But unfortunately, the holidays can very easily turn into a season of stress and anxiety. With a house to clean and decorate, holiday dinners to plan and prepare and presents to buy and wrap, the pressure can soon mount up. It leaves us overwhelmed, stressed and anxious – and nobody has time for that. If the holidays have you tied up in knots, it’s time to toss the guilt, ignore the expectations and manage your stress so you can enjoy the holiday break! “The great thing about holiday stress is that it’s predictable, said Elizabeth Scott, MS, a wellness coach and author. “Unlike many other types of negative stress we encounter in life, we know when holiday stress will begin and end, and we can make plans to reduce the amount of stress we experience and the negative impact it has on us.” Scott offers these tips to try to help reduce holiday stress before it begins: Set Your Priorities Before you get overwhelmed by too many activities, it’s important to decide what traditions offer the most positive impact and eliminate superfluous activities. For example, if you usually become overwhelmed by a flurry of baking, caroling, shopping, sending cards, visiting relatives and other activities that leave you exhausted by January, you may want to examine your priorities, pick a few favorite activities and really enjoy them, while skipping the rest. Take Shortcuts If you can’t fathom the idea of skipping out on sending cards, baking, seeing people, and doing all of the stuff that usually runs you ragged, you may do better including all of these activities in your schedule, but on a smaller scale. Be Smart With Holiday Eating During the holidays, we may want to look and feel great (especially if we're around people we don't see often--we know that this is how we'll be remembered), but there is so much temptation in the form of delicious food and decadent desserts, and a break from our regular routines--plus the addition of emotional stress--can all add up to overeating, emotional eating, and other forms of unhealthy eating. This year, plan ahead by being aware of your triggers, do what you can to have some healthy food at 8 Halifax Magazine • November/December 17 hand for each meal, be aware of your intake, and practice mindful eating. Change Your Expectations For Togetherness With family and friends, it’s important to be aware of your limitations. Think back to previous years and try to pinpoint how much togetherness you and your family can take before feeling negative stress. Can you limit the number of parties you attend or throw or the time you spend at each? Can you limit your time with family to a smaller timeframe that will still feel special and joyous, without draining you? Also, when dealing with difficult relatives, it’s okay to set limits on what you are and are not willing to do, including forgoing your visits or limiting them to every other year. Set A Schedule Putting your plans on paper can show you, in black and white, how realistic they are. If you find a time management planner and fill in the hours with your scheduled activities, being realistic and including driving time and down time, you will be able to see if you’re trying to pack in too much. Start with your highest priorities, so you will be able to eliminate the less important activities. Sources: www.verywell.com, www.health.com


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