- Be realistic. Don’t stay in the mindset that everything must be done to perfection. “Many people develop inaccurate expectations about the holidays,” says Patricia McClennan, MA, NCC, CASAC, WCA Hospital Inpatient Mental Health Assistant Manager. “Although the holidays are a time of celebration and love, problems do not just vanish due to the time of year. Instead of expecting perfection, set small, accomplishable goals. Make a list and prioritize the things you have to do during the months, weeks, or days leading up to important events. When you cannot accomplish something, ask for help or accept that imperfections will occur.”
- Make healthy choices. In a sea of holiday baked goods and fried foods, opt to eat as healthy as possible. Enjoy a salad or munch on sliced fruit before heading to a festive gathering, or sample high-calorie foods in moderation. Instead of using food as a way to cope with stress, take a walk, speak to a relative or long-lost friend, or meditate for 10 minutes.
- Change your perception. Viewing the holidays as a time of joy and acceptance can put you on the right track to stress relief. Incorporate time into your schedule each day to enjoy the sights and sounds of the holidays.
“Even though the holidays are a pleasant time for most people, they can become stressful when people overburden themselves with worries and commitments,” says Patricia. “Instead, try to emphasize the positive aspects, such as sharing more time with family, which will help to de-emphasize the negative feelings.”
If your holiday stress becomes overwhelming, don’t be afraid to ask for help. For information on mental health services, contact the WCA Hospital Outpatient Mental Health Program, at 664-8641.