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Reduce Holiday Stress

By Charles Hopkins Published 05/25/2007 | Health

This time of year seems to be stressful for everyone. Whether you are celebrating, Christmas, Hanukah, or Ramadan, there are special meals, guests and Stress!

Here are some ways to manage.

1. Don't overspend. Don't use credit cards unless you can pay them off in January. If you do, you will spread December stress into the New Year. If you have already extended your credit, resolve not to do so next year. You can open a Christmas Club account at your bank and save whatever your credit card payment was each month so that you will have the money set aside for next year.

2. Don't have unrealistic expectations. Something is sure to go wrong. Don't let it ruin your celebration. It will only be ruined if you allow it to be.

3. Don't skip meals, except for religious fasting. Skipping meals won't help you lose weight. Instead, eat frequent small, healthy meals. Some examples are yogurt and fruit, broth based soup and whole grain crackers, a lettuce salad with fat-free dressing, raw veggies and fat-free dip. If you skip meals before a party or special meal, you are more likely to overeat.

4. Give to charity. If you can afford it, give money/and or gifts to reputable organizations such as Salvation Army, Angel tree, Toys for Tots, church food and/or toy drives, Red Cross, or local women's shelter. If you can't afford to give money or gifts, give time. Volunteer to sort and/or wrap donations, deliver packages to recipients, staff a selection/drop-off center, serve a meal to a shelter.

5. Celebrate a tradition and/or start a new one. Just remember, every tradition doesn't HAVE to be practiced every year. Rotate or ask family members, which are the most meaningful, or fun to them.

6. Share. Invite someone who can't be with family to share your celebration.

7. Exercise. One of the best stress busters around!!

8. Allow yourself to be sad that loved ones can't be present, whether they have passed away or can't make the trip. After allowing yourself some time to be sad, focus on the positive, like all the holidays you did get to share with them or the future holidays you expect to have.

9. Delegate. Let other family members bring dishes, use pre-made food, and ask others to help with the set-up and/or clean up.

10. Be flexible. Compromise when necessary.

11. Don't overindulge in alcohol. If you do, use a designated driver, call a cab, or don't leave until you've sobered up.

Doing these things should help you have a safer, more pleasant holiday season. Enjoy!!