Managing Stress During the Holidays
Article Date: Dec 9, 2013

Holiday Stress

by Karen Bermel LIMHP, MC


It's no secret that the holidays are upon us. Thanksgiving Day was just last week and Christmas Day is less than one month away. Many of us get stressed out this time of year, so I thought it might be a good idea to refresh our memories of ways to make sure you take care of yourself during this busy time of year.

  1. Make sure you get enough sleep (7-9 hours for most of us).
  2. Avoid drinking too much alcohol.
  3. Opt for healthier food choices or smaller portions of food.
  4. Keep that exercise routine going.
  5. Schedule some down time – read a book, take a walk, meditate, pray.
  6. No illegal drugs.
  7. If you are taking medications, take them as directed.
  8. Take time to remember what this season is really all about.
  9. Know when to reach out for extra help – from family, friends, or providers.
  10. Be realistic with your expectations of yourself and others.

In talking with patients, one of the biggest areas of concern is managing the budget for gifts. Money is very tight for so many of us these days, and yet it is so easy to overdo the gifting for our families and friends. It's no longer about Black Friday, but Pre-Black Friday, and Gray Thursday! Someone here at the office tells me that Thanksgiving is now called Gray Thursday, because some stores are opening early on the holiday for shoppers. Who knew? The financial aspect of the holidays can really overwhelm and cause people to feel even more stressed out.

Family issues can create various stressors through the year, but during the holidays we might need a little help. The website About.com offers up a nice article called Gratitude Exercises for Thanksgiving and the Holiday Season. Here are the recommendations for family stressors during this time of year:

  1. Keep a gratitude journal – look for what you are thankful for and write it down.
  2. Tweet, text or email your feelings of gratitude to family members.
  3. Look for what you love about a family member, rather than what annoys you.
  4. Create a tradition of sharing feelings of love and gratitude for others at your holiday gathering.

Overall, it may be most important to remember what we are celebrating and why. Many of us have spiritual and religious traditions that can easily get lost in the shuffle of Black Fridays and Gray Thursdays. A holiday specifically designed to take a moment and be grateful, and another holiday about a month later to honor our religious and spiritual beliefs may require us to slow down a bit and rethink some of our busy-ness.

I'm hoping that some of these ideas will be helpful to you as you enter into this busy but meaningful time of year.

Here's to a wonderful holiday season for all of you!


Karen Bermel LIMHP, MC, is a regular contributor to the Alegent Creighton Health Wellness blog.


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Karen Bermel LIMHP, MC

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