Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Georgia Southern University Expert Offers Tips on Reducing Holiday Stress

The holidays are supposed to be a joyous time, but many people feel overwhelmed by the extra cooking, shopping, spending and expectations that come with the celebrations.

Dr. Pamela Feldt, Assistant Professor in Georgia Southern University’s Department of Psychology, offers these five tips to keep holiday stress in check.

Keep Expectations Realistic
Become aware of your stress inducing ideas about the holiday season and challenge them. No one’s house, children, gifts or baking is perfect. Yours don’t have to be perfect, either. It’s a better idea to focus on what gives you and your family pleasure, rather than what you think you ought to be doing.

Watch What You Eat
It’s OK to eat some cookies and other sweet treats if you follow two simple rules. First, don’t beat yourself up for doing so. Second, don’t skip real food (like vegetables and protein) in order to cut calories after you’ve eaten sweets. It is entirely possible to sugar-stress your body, which makes it more difficult to cope with other stressors.

Only Drink In Moderation
If you drink, drink no more than two drinks per day. Also, make sure that you give your body time to metabolize the alcohol before you go to bed. If you don’t, you may wake up in the middle of the night and not be able to get back to sleep. Getting enough sleep is an important stress reducer.

Make time for some exercise. Even minimal exercise (ten minutes at a time) outside in the sunshine and fresh air helps to reduce stress and improve your mood.

Make a calendar on which you put everything that needs to be done during the holiday season, including special activities for all family members and routine things that need to be accomplished, such as car maintenance and medical appointments. Once you have all of your appointments down on a calendar, you can see if you are scheduled to be in two places at once and make plans to deal with the schedule conflict. Creating the calendar can be a fun activity for the whole family to enjoy together.

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