Coping With Holiday Stress

Posted on December 19, 2005

The holidays are not always a happy time for everyone and depression is not uncommon. Many people also deal with grief from a loss loved one during the holidays. There are lots of news articles with advice about dealing with grief and stress that are released this time of year to help. A Reuters article includes some tips for coping with grief during the holidays from Cynthia Bozich-Keith, a clinical assistant professor in Purdue University's School of Nursing. One of her tips suggests letting go of the need to "do it all" this holiday season:
Be realistic: "Know the difference between what you can do versus what you should do. The 'shoulds' will get you every time," Bozich-Keith said. "It's important to let go of the need to be perfect or doing it all. If you're accustomed to doing all of the shopping, cooking, and decorating, maybe this is the year to share those things with others."
That advice probably applies to the stressed out as well as the grieving. Don't hurt yourself in an attempt to be Martha Stewart this season especially if you are already run down from stress, long work hours or caring for a sick person.

Other articles about coping with grief during the holidays can be found here and here. A helpful article from the Mayo Clinic lists 12 pre-emptive strategies for coping with holiday stress. The Mayo Clinic says holiday stress is caused by three issues: relationships, finances and physical demands. Here is what the Mayo Clinic said about the phsyical demands of the holiday leading to stress:
Physical demands. The strain of shopping, attending social gatherings and preparing holiday meals can wipe you out. Feeling exhausted can increase your stress, creating a vicious cycle. Exercise and sleep - good antidotes for stress and fatigue - may take a back seat to chores and errands. High demands, stress, lack of exercise, and overindulgence in food and drink � these are the ingredients for holiday illness.
And they didn't even mention air travel or long road trips. This all leads back to the same quoted advice from Cynthia Bozich-Keith: "It's important to let go of the need to be perfect or doing it all." It is better to cancel something or get help with some of the holiday preparations then to risk getting sick -- especially if you already have extra stress from grief, work or some other factor.

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