Mental Health

Dealing with Holiday Stress

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It's that time of year when many people shift gears and the holidays take center stage. Often, the holiday season is not all comfort and joy. It can be a time of great emotional and physical stress. One of my favorite psychology links is The American Psychological Association - which is featuring a timely post on how to identify holiday stress and build resilience. Here are some excerpts:

Define holiday stress—How do you experience stress? Does that experience change during the holidays? Different people experience stress differently. How do you know when you are stressed?

Identify holiday stressors—What holiday events or situations trigger stressful feelings? Are they related to work, home, relationships or something else?

Recognize how you deal with stress—Determine if you are relying on unhealthy behaviors like smoking or eating to manage stress. Is this a behavior you rely on year-round, or is it specific to holiday stress?

Change one behavior at a time—Unhealthy behaviors develop over the course of time. Replacing unhealthy behaviors with healthy ones requires time. Start small and focus on changing one behavior.

Take care of yourself—Taking care of yourself during the holiday season helps to keep your mind and body primed to deal with stress. Pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Engage in holiday activities that you enjoy and find relaxing. Exercise regularly. Eat healthy. Make sure you get enough rest and sleep.

Ask for support—Accepting help from those who care about you and will listen to you strengthens your resilience and ability to manage stress. Use the holidays as a time to reconnect with friends and family and strengthen your support network. If you feel overwhelmed by stress, then consider seeking professional help. Psychologists are uniquely trained to understand the connection between the mind and body. They can offer strategies to help you manage stress, change unhealthy behaviors and address emotional issues.