The holiday season is upon us! The season can bring us many good things including time with friends and family, delicious food and drink, visiting special places and gift sharing. But it can also bring with it the not-so-good visitor of holiday stress! Although, some stress in our lives can provide motivation to get things done, too much stress may cause us to ‘shut down’ and feel depressed. The demands of socializing, cooking, shopping, cleaning, etc. may bring us ‘down’ and contribute to a ‘blue’ holiday season instead of a joyful one.

The Mayo Clinic offers some tips on how to avoid or minimize the potential negative effects of holiday stress.  These include:

  1. Acknowledging your real feelings.
  2. Reaching out to others if you are feeling lonely or isolated.
  3. Being realistic. Things change over the years, so the way you celebrate may need to change also.
  4. Set aside differences.
  5. Stick to a budget. Be realistic about what you can spend on entertaining, food and gifts.
  6. Plan ahead.
  7. Learn to say ‘no’ if you need to. You may not be able to attend every event to which you get invited.
  8. Don’t abandon healthy habits. Don’t overindulge in rich foods. Keep up with your exercise routine and get sufficient rest.
  9. Take a breather. Make time for yourself – to read, meditate, nap, walk, get a MASSAGE.
  10. Seek professional help if you need it. If you are feeling irritable, hopeless and unable to accomplish everyday chores, talking to a professional may be in order.

The Cleveland Clinic also offers advice for dealing with holiday stress.  These include:

  1. Asking those for whom you are going to get presents what they would like and shopping early.
  2. Deciding which traditions are most important to you.
  3. Volunteer or give back to the community in some fashion.
  4. Accept feelings of sadness or loneliness that may come up. Then spend time with people who care about you.

You can keep the holidays from becoming something you dread. Learn to recognize your holiday ‘triggers’ such as financial pressures or increased personal demands so that you can work with them before they lead to a ‘meltdown.’ Be sure to make some time just for yourself. Give yourself a present such as a nurturing and relaxing spa treatment.With some forethought, planning and positive thinking, the holidays can offer you joy AND peace.