10 ways to stress less and feel better now


Whether it’s gift shopping or organizing the family’s get together, almost everyone feels a little more stressed during the holidays as compared to the rest of the year.

Many of us feel pressure to buy bigger and better gifts despite financial constraints. Others tend to become even busier over the holidays attending to the needs of their children, spouses and parents. Sometimes in the rush to shop, wrap, cook and plan holiday festivities we tend to ignore our own health.

There are ways to take the stress out of the holidays and focus on what’s important: Your health. Here are 10 tips to stress less and feel better:

  1. Give the gift of time. When children and adults are asked what they truly want, the most popular answer is time spent with loved ones. Sit down to chat with someone you love. Share your true feelings as if this were your last chance to talk to them.
  2. Let peace be with you. Keeping your body, mind, and spirit relaxed goes a long way in making the holidays fun. Try some aromatherapy (the scent of peppermint, vanilla, and pine energize and lift the spirit) and set aside the time to have a massage or to take a yoga class to stay refreshed. Your heightened and enlightened mood will be infectious and carry over to others.
  3. Create new traditions. The holiday season doesn’t have to be just like last year’s or just the way it was back in 1985.  It also doesn’t have to happen in one day. The ancient celebration of Yule, for example, is a 12-day festival. Consider creating new traditions by spreading out the celebrations over multiple days.
  4. Know your limits — and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Let your guests bring a potluck dinner instead of preparing everything yourself. Ask others to help you prepare and clean up afterwards.
  5. Set aside time for yourself. Continue to strive for 30 minutes or walking or physical activity each day. Make a point of getting 8 hours of sleep every night. Take a walk outside to get your exercise and a little “me time.”
  6. Stick with healthy habits. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt. Have a healthy snack before holiday parties so that you don’t go overboard on sweets, cheese or drinks. Continue to get plenty of sleep and physical activity. Be mindful of calories and favor fresh fruit over pie.
  7. Acknowledge your feelings. If you’ve lost a loved one recently, realize that it’s normal to grieve and feel sad. It’s okay to cry or express your feelings. You can’t force yourself (or others) to be happy during the holidays.
  8. Reach out to others. If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out friends, family, community or religious events. Volunteering your time to help others is also a way to lift your spirits, form new bonds of friendship and broaden your perspective.
  9. Assert yourself. Learn to say no.  You might want to do it all, but that’s not easy without paying a price. Learning to say no or being willing to delegate can help you manage your to-do list and your stress. Saying yes when you mean no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed.
  10. Keep the kids busy. Help your children and your relatives’ children stay active and involved in what’s going on. Get the kids involved with cooking, decorating and gift-wrapping. Kids love to offer their input, so getting them involved will make them feel important and part of the celebrations.

Above all, if you feel any unusual symptoms, talk to a doctor. Don’t postpone finding out what’s going on with your body until next year. Rule out any serious problems before you go on with the party.

Dr. Calhoun’s 3 Do’s and 3 Don’ts

Do — Stick to a well-balanced diet, get adequate sleep, and exercise regularly

Don’t — Smoke, don’t drink excessively, don’t overindulge

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