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Posted on 11-20-2012

Good morning!

Well, thanksgiving is upon us and the stress is building in families all across American.  Between holiday travels and last minute shopping, it can be easy for your stress levels to reach an all-time high as you swing into the holiday season. Here are some suggestions on overcoming the stress (portions taken from Cooper Aerobics):

1. Set realistic expectations. Approval-seeking is a fundamental part of human nature. In the midst of wrapping presents and preparing to entertain others, the need for approval can build causing your expectations to become unrealistic.

To set realistic expectations for yourself, simplify as much as possible and make an effort to not go overboard with all things related to the holidays. If you also keep focused on the true purpose of the holidays, it keeps you grounded with regard to the most important thing – giving thanks and sharing your love with others.

2. Distinguish between perfectionism and "good enough." Perfectionism during the holidays can cause severe stress for people. There are too many areas throughout the holidays where you can strive to be perfect.  From dinner to picking out a Christmas tree, ask yourself, “Is this good enough?” This will help reduce your stress level as you let go of your perfectionism.

3. Reduce time pressure and financial stresses. As the holiday season arrives in full force, pull out your monthly calendar and write out your obligations. To plan ahead and stay organized, identify what days you will be shopping, when you have holiday parties and when you will be preparing your holiday feasts. This will help you prioritize your holiday activities to ensure that all of your commitments are not falling on one weekend or day.

It can be easy to get caught up in the excitement of picking out the perfect gifts, food and decorations. Take time to plan your budget for the holiday season. As you begin your holiday shopping, jot down what you are spending and make sure that it aligns with your budget and finances. If you fail to plan ahead with your budget, your stress level may increase once you see your financial statements after the holidays.

4. Forget the “shoulds” and the “musts.” You likely have a set of holiday traditions that you enjoy with your family, but as your children grow up and have families of their own, family dynamics and roles can shift. Allow yourself to be tolerant and flexible, and do not try to impose your fantasy of what the holidays should be like. It is important to realize that new traditions may begin as in-laws are introduced into the mix and new family members are born. Consider how you will need to adjust and make a commitment to be willing to open up the holidays to new traditions.

5. Do not take things personally. Whether you expect to eat a certain meal or have family travel to your house, remember that people will do as they please and what they feel they must. In terms of spending time with you, actions from your loved ones should be voluntary and not out of obligation. If you try to control your family’s actions, it can be a recipe for disaster. Remember that most people do the best they can, and they make decisions based on the circumstances and the situation. You cannot control events and others around you.

6.  Give yourself time to decompress. People get caught up in the hectic pace and forget to take care of themselves. The holidays are a time when your self-care should increase instead of decrease. Allow yourself to retreat, be quiet and have down time. Between the crowds in the mall and constant holiday festivities, taking time to be alone can be rejuvenating and keep you on the right track toward a pleasant holiday.

7. Ask for help. If you are feeling overwhelmed, do not be afraid to ask for help. Be assertive and ask others to lend a helping hand for your to-dos such as decorating, cooking or wrapping.

Remember, the only person that can ruin your holiday and make it stressful is you. Commit to following these tips and adopting the attitudes and behaviors that will help you enjoy this holiday season.

Have a blessed day!

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