When stress makes itself at home for the holidays

When stress makes itself at home for the holidays

By: The University of Tennessee Medical Center NS

For some people, the holiday season is not the most wonderful time of the year.

Financial pressure and get-togethers with friends and family can lead to feelings of sadness and loneliness.

According to certified health information specialists at The University of Tennessee Medical Center’s Health Information Center, people who are already experiencing stress in other areas of their life may be especially vulnerable to increased anxiety during the holidays. Caregivers, people who are facing health issues, and people who have recently experienced losses might feel like the holidays are a burden.

However, there are conscious steps to help prevent holiday stress and ensure a worry-free season.

The American Psychological Association offers tips to help deal with holiday stress:

•Take time for yourself. There may be pressure to be everything to everyone. Remember that you’re only one person and can only accomplish certain things. Go for a long walk, get a massage or take time out to listen to your favorite music or read a new book. All of us need some time to recharge our batteries. By slowing down you will actually have more energy to accomplish your goals.

•Volunteer. Find a local charity, such as a soup kitchen or a shelter where you and your family can volunteer. Participating in a giving tree or an adopt-a-family program may help you put your own economic struggles in perspective.

•Have realistic expectations. No Thanksgiving, Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanza or other holiday celebration is perfect. View inevitable missteps as opportunities to demonstrate flexibility and resilience. A lopsided tree or a burned turkey won’t ruin your holiday; rather, it will create a family memory. If your children’s wish list is outside your budget, talk to them about the family’s finances and remind them that the holidays aren’t about expensive gifts.

•Remember what’s important. Holiday advertising can make you forget what the holiday season is really about. When your holiday expense list is running longer than your monthly budget, scale back and remind yourself that what makes a great celebration is loved ones, not store-bought presents, elaborate decorations or gourmet food.

•Seek support. Talk about your feelings with your friends and family. Getting things out in the open can help you work toward a solution for your stress. If you continue to feel overwhelmed, consider seeing a professional such as a psychologist to help you manage your holiday stress.

For additional information on how to handle stress – or, for health information on any topic – contact The University of Tennessee Medical Center’s Health Information Center at 865-305-9525.