Reducing Holiday Stress

By Frank D. Wright, MD

3 tips to reduce holiday stress

1. Set a spending limit for gifts and rely on personal gifts that do not cost anything.
Giving your time and attention to someone is as precious as an expensive gift. People quickly forget about material objects. Instead, offer someone your time or advice. An understanding ear is a great gift for the holidays. Make a list of people you want to give a gift to and determine if a material gift or personal attention would be a better choice.

2. Remember, the holidays are about having fun and if going somewhere you really don’t want to be creates stress, don’t go.
Realize early on that it is okay to say no to events you may not find enjoyable. Everyone is planning events around the holidays and trying to attend everything is a sure way to develop stress during the holidays. If you just can’t get out of an event, be positive. A positive attitude will be a great psychological barrier to stress.

3. Keep a regular schedule and limit alcohol intake.
It’s important to get enough sleep to avoid all the pitfalls of sleep deprivation and depression.

How can I manage Holiday Stress?

If stress does build up, exercise. A good brisk walk out in the sunshine is a great way to reduce stress. Take the family along and it may become a regular family activity.

How to avoid emotional eating?

Identifying the difference between emotional hunger and physical hunger is the first step. Physical hunger is a slow process that occurs over hours. Emotional hunger is quick and characterized by cravings for particular foods, usually high in carbohydrates. Chronic stress can lead to increased levels of cortisol, a hormone that causes a metabolic cascade in your body terminating in hunger.

Boredom also causes emotional eating. Have a plan to divert your boredom into something constructive. Challenge yourself to wait a minute before reaching for a comfort food, then two minutes, then three until the urge fades and you are able to channel your emotions into a project or something as easy as reading a book.