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Balancing the Stressors of the Season

The holidays can be a difficult time for many people. While it's a time to celebrate with family and friends, the season also can cause much stress and fatigue. How to make the most out of the holidays without letting yourself down could be the biggest challenge you face this season. Here are some helpful tips:

Plan a strategy to manage the most stressful elements of the season. If you don't like shopping, start thinking about gifts early. Is there something you can give that doesn't require shopping—a gift of your time, talent or companionship? How about shopping through catalogues or on-line? If the crush of social and family obligations is what challenges you, consider what you can realistically do. If you normally don't use a calendar to plan your schedule, now might be a good time to try it. It's helpful to see your obligations in concrete terms. Whatever it is that causes stress for you, the most important thing is to identify it and make a realistic plan to manage it.

Practice moderation with food and drink, which is not to say don't have fun. Allow yourself special treats, but remember the remorse that unwanted weight gain or a debilitating hangover can produce. Also consider the fact that alcohol is a depressant drug and can only exacerbate the blues.

If you have experienced a loss, or if the season brings up painful memories, the holidays can be a difficult time. Don't run away from the feelings. Acknowledge them and find someone to talk to who is supportive and understanding. Whatever you do, the most important thing is to anticipate the holidays and consider what activity would be the least stressful and bring the most comfort to you.

In spite of the stress that the holidays can bring, there are positive and happy moments to enjoy and recognize, too. Think of those times that you enjoy, or have enjoyed in the past. In the final analysis, the holiday season is time-limited and life, as always, will return to its normal routine with the new year.

- The Behavioral Medicine Team of SGVMC

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