Less stress for the holidays

Joan Reid, Extension Agent, Family & Consumer Sciences, Granville County
Dec. 01, 2013 @ 10:19 AM

As we enter the holiday season, already-stressed adults will heap lots more stress on themselves by trying to do too much, spending too much, partying too much and eating too much. It’s not that anyone wants to be more stressed. We just get sucked up into the holiday vortex.

If you ask most adults of varying religious beliefs, they will tell you that the overall message of the holiday season is one of love and peace at home, in our communities and around the world. That’s a long leap to exhausting shopping in search of “perfect gifts” — the latest and greatest electronics, gadgets, appliances, gaming devices, clothing and more.

Not only that, some folks are willing to stand in line and fight off other shoppers in ever-increasing shopping hours to get “really good deals,” sometimes going into debt. While such items do give pleasure and sometimes make life easier, do we really believe these items will make us happy, as advertising would have us believe?

So, before we add holiday stress to the stress we already have, we may want to pull back a bit and assess our needs and our desires for the holiday season. We can control the amount of stress we let into our lives by being intentional and making conscious decisions on how we will spend our time, money and energy. It’s okay to let ourselves off the hook. An excellent after-Thanksgiving activity would be planning precisely how we can minimize holiday activities that drain us and maximize relaxation/restorative time.

There are some practices that can help relieve stress when you find yourself feeling overwhelmed or very upset or angry. Try some listed below:

• Throughout your day, take several long, deep breaths. As you slowly breathe in, let your belly expand like a balloon. Hold each breath for a few seconds and then gradually let your breath out, letting your belly come in.

• Do some physical activity, such as walking, running, dancing or exercising to a DVD.

• Listen to mellow music (try listening as you drift off to sleep).

• Meditate; do relaxation or muscle tense-and-release exercises.

• Call a friend.

• Read inspirational passages.

• Take a cold shower or soak in a hot bath.

Do some physical work, such as yard work, scrubbing the floor, or cleaning out the garage.

If you’d like more information on managing stress, go to these two web addresses:

Understanding stress — edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fy518.

Ways to cope with stress — edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fy517.