Give Yourself a Stress-Free Season

shutterstock_109629779Like it or not, they’re here: the holidays. For many, ‘tis the season of shopping, spiritual celebration, socializing, obligations, travel, and seemingly endless preparations.

Remember that everyone deserves to enjoy the holidays, including you. But if you’ve overcommitted, overspent, overindulged, or overaccommodated, and you feel overwhelmed, the holidays could take an emotional or physical toll. Having a plan in place to prevent stress and depression at this time of year is key. The Mayo Clinic offers the following tips:

  • Be realistic. Families change and grow, and traditions and rituals may as well. Choose a few to keep, and be open to creating new ones. For example, if your adult children can’t come to your house, find different ways to celebrate together such as sharing photos, e-mails, or videos. Consider planning visits for just before or just after the holidays to avoid the inconvenience of peak travel days.
  • Keep up healthy habits. Don’t let the holidays become a free-for-all. Overindulgence only adds to stress and guilt. Have a healthy snack before parties so you don’t go overboard on treats, appetizers, or drinks. Get plenty of sleep and incorporate regular physical activity into each day.
  • Stick to a budget. Before shopping for gifts or food, decide how much money you can afford to spend. Then don’t overspend.
  • Learn to say “no.” Saying yes when you should say no could leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and colleagues will understand if you can’t participate in every project or activity. If your boss asks you to work overtime and it’s not possible to decline, try to remove something else from your agenda to make up for the lost time.
  • Acknowledge your feelings. If you’re grieving the loss of someone or you can’t be with loved ones for other reasons, realize it’s normal to feel sadness. It’s OK to take time to cry or express your feelings. You can’t force yourself to be happy just because it’s the holiday season.

If the stress gets to be too much, employee assistance programs at work may provide access to confidential, no-cost counseling services and resources (check with your human resources department for access). The Department of Consumer Affairs’ Board of Psychology and Board of Behavioral Sciences offer links to mental health resources as well. In addition, our Board of Pharmacy offers fact sheets and publications to help ensure your good times or travel plans are not affected by minor illnesses.

Visit www.dca.ca.gov for more information.

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