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Challenge: Reducing Holiday Stress

Lose that Holiday Stress!

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Holiday season is here!

Unfortunately, that can also trigger pressure and unwanted stress!

A common reason we find ourselves overwhelmed and feeling less than jolly can be pressures that come from family, friends, and media. We often have childhood memories of the holidays that seem unattainable today. Those expectations can lead to unrealistic pressures to re-create the magical and perfect holiday for ourselves and our families.

Other sources of stress can come from managing finances, staying healthy, and comparing ourselves to others. If we have suffered a loss or a difficult time this year, the holidays amplify our sorrow, grief and stress.

So what can we do to de-stress this holiday?

Let's start by changing our relationship to stress itself! We often see stressful events as bad or harmful, but the reality is that our interpretation of stress can be the key to managing it. Researcher and stress expert Kelly McGonigal talks about how to make stress your friend in this excellent video from TedX. She explains the importance of changing our perspective on stress and some tips on how to increase protective factors like socialization and helping others.

When we start feeling overwhelmed with our to do list, take a step back and ask how important is everything on my list. Where can I set realistic boundaries? When can I say no?

Make self-care a priority.

Be realistic with yourself. Recognize that it is not an all or nothing situation. We don't need to do everything perfect and we definitely don't need to believe those negative messages that we "should" be a certain way. Focus more on your blessings and less on what you believe may be missing. Take some time to build relationships instead of stressing about the perfect gift or the ideal picture for your holiday card. Remember that it is okay to be okay... Sounds silly, but it is important. Savor the good and the positive in your life, connect with people you love, and let go of the worry of what other's may believe about you. Make your health and happiness a priority.

When it comes to your physical health, recognize you may indulge more this time of the year and pay attention to healthier eating and exercising when you can. Budget time for exercise to stay on track. Allow down time to call a friend, take a walk, practice yoga, meditate, and continue with a healthy lifestyle that can easily be forgotten about when life gets busy. When you are out celebrating, focus more on the social aspect of a party and less on indulging. For example, eat a meal before going to a party so that you can spend your time connecting with loved ones and less time indulging.

In the end it comes down to expectations. Identify what is important to you this holiday season. Stay focused on what you truly value and less on outside pressure and unrealistic expectations of perfection and you will find yourself having a much happier holiday!

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