The holiday season is upon us; that means family, food, friends, and maybe a little stress. Stress is a natural part of life and does have some benefits; it helped our ancestors survive, and it can help us focus when it really counts. However, having tools to cope with stress over the holiday season can help make it even more enjoyable.

Try not to worry about things that are out of your control, but make it a point to plan things you do have some control over in advance. Last minute scrambling in the kitchen and the mall is not the best way to have a stress-free holiday. Family can also be a source of stress over the holidays. Do some reflecting and be emotionally ready to give the benefit of the doubt, and forgive comments that may rub you the wrong way. Food is one part of the holidays that many of us look forward to, but don’t use it as an excuse to totally abandon healthy habits. Have healthy snacks available, and try to include some physical activity in your schedule. Exercise is a good way to relieve stress.

Remember, you can’t please everybody, and holidays are meant to be relaxing. So don’t schedule too many things, and enjoy the most important part, spending time with family and friends.

Tips on how to cope with holiday stress:

  • Learn to say no. Saying yes to everything can leave you feeling resentful and stressed.
  • Take a breather. Plan some time for yourself. Take a walk or get a massage.
  • Reach out. If you feel lonely or isolated seek out social events that can offer support.
  • Stick to a budget. Decide how much you can spend before you go shopping.

Sources: CDC, Psychology Today, Mayo Clinic. The Health Tip of the Week is for educational purposes only. For additional information, consult your physician. Please feel free to copy and distribute this health resource.