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How to avoid stress this holiday season

With holiday cheer can also comes stress.

An article in Business Day Live addresses how holiday festivities can be overwhelming. It quotes Dr. Mallay Occhiogrosso, a psychiatrist at the Payne Whitney Clinic and Weill Cornell Medical Center.

“Overly high expectations for the holidays — be it around food, gifts or family relationships — can trigger anxiety and even depression,” Occhiogrosso said.

The article also quotes Dr. Maria Oquendo, a psychiatrist at Columbia University Medical Center.

“During the holidays, lives can become even more stressful as people try to juggle their usual responsibilities with extra preparation and complicated family dynamics,” said Oquendo.

Nour Habib from the Tulsa World mentions that one cause of stress during the holidays is that people overcommit themselves by trying to make time for everyone. Although we want to please all our family members, sometimes we just are not able to satisfy everyone in the ways we want to.

Listed are 10 tips on ways to avoid stress. These tips are from the articles found on Business Day Live and the Tulsa World.

1. Take care of yourself – Tulsa World

To limit stress during the holidays, Joseph Schwartz, a licensed clinical psychologist at Riverside Counseling, said it is important to take care of yourself. He refers to it as self-preservation, not selfishness.

“You can do the most good for most people if you preserve yourself,” Schwartz said.

To do this, make sure you are never hungry, angry, lonely, tired or sick. Taking care of these needs will help reduce your stress level.

2. Plan ahead – Tulsa World

If you are hosting family for the holidays, planning ahead also reduces stress. If your family is staying for a few days, make sure you also make plans to get out of the house to allow family members to get some space and see new faces.

3. Take a break – Tulsa World

Don't feel bad if you need to take a breather. Taking a break could be something as simple as humming a song to yourself or stepping out into the hall to text or call a friend.

“Just engage in mindful behavior to distract yourself from the stress,” said Schwartz.

4. Avoid conflict – Tulsa World

Sometimes personalities don't click within families. To avoid conflict as much as possible, talk about things everyone enjoys or has in common. If a conflict does arise, just agree to disagree.

“If you don't want to play tug of war, don't pick up the rope,” Schwartz said. “There's nothing wrong with just keeping quiet or walking away.”

5. Prioritize your time – Business Day Live

Remember, you can't do everything. Choose things you know you can accomplish and enjoy. It wouldn't be a bad idea to get some input from family members about what they might enjoy doing this holiday.

6. Shop without anxiety – Business Day Live

It's the thought that counts. Don't let silly things such as guilt, perfectionism and competitiveness break your bank. Create a holiday budget before you go shopping and stick to it. Sometimes homemade Christmas gifts are the way to go.

7. Ask for help – Business Day Live

To alleviate the stress of doing everything on your own, get family and friends involved in holiday preparations.

8. Set realistic expectations – Business Day Live

Many times, expectations for family get-togethers are too high. This results in disappointment and frustration. Lower your expectations and tell yourself to have fun no matter what happens.

9. Put it all in perspective – Business Day Live

Focus on what the holiday season really means to you: family time together, reflection on your life and future goals and the blessings you have received. Let these aspects keep things in perspective.

10. Seek out emotional support – Business Day Live

If you find yourself struggling with family difficulties, plan some time with friends if needed. Also remember that doing less may help you enjoy the holidays more. This can be the best stress reliever of all.

Kylie Lewis is an intern for the Deseret News where she writes for Mormon Times and does other feature articles. She recently graduated from Brigham Young University-Idaho, receiving a bachelor’s degree in communications.

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