Joy to the World

Fighting the stress of the season

The holidays aren’t happy for everyone.

Busy women all over the Triangle are trying to squeeze shopping, parties, decorating, pageants and much more into already hectic lives of work, love, friends and family.
Whew! No wonder some of us feel overwhelmed.

This season, take a deep breath, and consider the following stress-fighting tips from the American Psychological Association and the National Mental Health Association:

• Keep expectations reasonable.

Try to set realistic goals and pace yourself. Make a list of your priorities to help organize your time.

Don’t put all your focus on making one day perfect. It is a sentimental season, and activities can be spread out to lessen stress and increase enjoyment for everyone.

• Leave the past behind.

Life is all about change. Each year is different and should be enjoyed in its own way.

Comparing this holiday to the last, or even to those of your childhood, is setting yourself up for disappointment.

• Remember it’s OK to not be happy.

Just because the holidays are here doesn’t mean you should be cheery and bright all the time.

There’s room for sad feelings. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to be in a great mood 24 hours a day.

• Do some good.

Volunteer to help others. Working with people or animals who are less fortunate than you are can help put things in perspective.

• Drink in moderation. Excessive imbibing intensifies feelings — good and bad.

• Get some sun.

The environment may have something to do with your blues.

Studies show that many people suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which results from fewer hours of sunlight as the days grow shorter during the winter months.

• Connect.

Spend time with people who are supportive. Reach out and meet new folks, or contact old friends or long-lost family members.

• Control your spending.

According to the American Psychological Association, money issues cause the most holiday stress.

When you feel as though your spending is getting out of hand, stop. You don’t have to run up a huge credit-card bill.

Make a list of people for whom you want to purchase presents. Stick to it.

• Travel smart.

Most delays are out of your hands, but you can control your reaction. Don’t think of it as waiting; consider it part of the journey and try to not dwell on the outcome.

Also, be prepared. Pack an extra change of clothes and the essentials in case you have to spend a night without your luggage.