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Five Tools to Handle Holiday Stress

Tuesday December 22nd 2015

Holiday-StressWhile the holidays can bring joy, they can also be the cause of drastically higher stress levels. Between shopping for the perfect gift, wrapping up tasks at work before year end and taking vacation time, and preparing treats for the neighborhood, your to-do list is probably growing by the minute. Stress can lead to a variety of health problems, including depression, heart disease, headaches, and gastrointestinal distress. Manage your holiday stress better by using these tools.

1. Take care of your body.

One of the best (and healthiest) ways to cope with stress is to get out and move. Exercise combats mental and physical health problems and produces endorphins that make you feel great. If you keep a schedule or to-do list, add a workout and a good night’s rest so you make it a top priority. During busy times, many people often eat on the go, but try to find time to prepare nutritious meals and eat together as a family.

2. Find reasons to be grateful.

If you feel yourself stressing out over work deadlines, take a step back and try to feel grateful that you have steady employment during a time when financial stress can be at an all-time high. Research shows that focusing on the positive and cultivating gratitude are linked to higher levels of stress tolerance, stronger relationships, and better physical and emotional health. You don’t have to wait for Thanksgiving to come around to express gratitude; take time each day to express appreciation for what you have.

3. Take advantage of employee assistance programs.

No matter what you are dealing with, whether it is a personal or professional issue, your employee assistance program has resources that can help. This resource is completely confidential, so your employer won’t know that you have even scheduled an appointment. Most programs provide free counseling services to employees and their dependents, providing an outlet for stress management and coping techniques.

4. Plan ahead.

Stress often hits when we feel that we are stretched too thin or have too many tasks to do and not enough hours in the day to accomplish them. Plan out your day (and include downtime) so you can tackle projects without feeling overwhelmed.

5. Let it go.

Don’t fret about finding the perfect gift. Instead, just try to enjoy the moment and create memories with loved ones. If you do feel stress, participate in breathing exercises that can help feelings of anxiety and negative thoughts leave your body, leaving you in a more relaxed state. Let go of anger or frustration at family members who may have upset you. These simple techniques will give you a chance to better enjoy the season.

Don’t feel bad if you experience stress around the holiday season; it is very common and affects millions of people around the world. Instead, just try to manage stress in healthy and positive ways so you can maintain good health throughout the year.

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