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The Texas 12-Step Plan to Manage Holiday Stress

Oct 16, 2007
The weather in Austin, Dallas, Houston and the rest of Texas is already starting to cool down. This means, for many individuals, the stress of the holiday season is almost upon them.

When your stress peaks, it's hard to think, let alone act. These steps can help you keep normal holiday depression at bay:

- They're your feelings, acknowledge them. If a loved one has recently died or you aren't near your loved ones, it's normal to feel sadness or grief. So take time to cry or express your feelings. You can't force yourself to be happy just because it's the holidays.

- Get support. If you're feeling down, talk to family members, friends, or community, religious or social services. They can provide support.

- Consider volunteering. Get involved and help others. This can lift your spirits and broaden your social circle. In addition, get support for organizing holiday gatherings, meal prep and cleanup. Don't go it alone. And don't be a martyr.

- Be real. Families change and grow. Traditions change too. Hold onto the traditions you want to. Understand that, in some cases, that may no longer be possible.

- Put your differences aside. Accept family members and friends as they are. Set differences aside for a better time to discuss. Stress and activity levels are already high enough during the holidays. So leave well enough alone.

- Stick to your budget. Decide how much money you can afford to spend on gifts and other items. Then stick to your budget. Don't try to buy an avalanche of gifts. Try donating to a charity in someone's name, give homemade gifts, or start a gift exchange.

- Plan ahead. Set aside time for shopping, baking, visiting friends and other activities. That should help prevent a last-minute scramble. Also allow extra time for travel so that delays won't worsen your stress.

- Just say no. Individuals understand or should be made to understand, if necessary if you can't do certain projects or activities. If you can't say no when you're asked to work overtime, try to rearrange your agenda to make up the time.
- Keep your healthy habits. The holidays should not become an excuse to eat badly. Treat yourself, but keep in mind that overindulgence will only add to the stress and guilt. It is often a good idea to have a healthy snack before holiday parties to keep you from overindulging.

- Take a time-out. Make time for yourself. Go to a quiet place, even if it's the bathroom, for a few moments. Find what helps keep you calm.

- Think about your resolutions, New Year's or otherwise. They can set you up for failure if you choose something unrealistic. Try basic, healthy lifestyle routines. Set smaller, more specific goals. Choose realistic resolutions that will keep you feeling valuable.

- Accept imperfections. In real life, people don't usually resolve problems within a half-hour, as the TV sitcoms would suggest. Something always comes up -- and it may all happen in the same day. Expect and accept that things will go wrong.

- Seek professional help if that's what you really need. No matter what you do, you may find yourself feeling seriously sad or anxious. Perhaps plagued by physical complaints, like lack of sleep, irritability and hopelessness. Or you're unable to face routine things. If these feelings last for weeks, talk to a medical or a mental health professional. You may be seriously depressed.
About the Author
Pat Carpenter writes for Precedent Insurance Company. Precedent puts a new spin on health insurance. Learn more at Precedent.com
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