De-Stress During The Holidays

by Dr. William Epperly, Forum Health Bloomingdale

Around the holidays, the hustle and bustle can turn a season of peace and joy into a time of wanting to pull your hair out!

But over the years, I have accumulated a list of action steps a person can take to reduce the stress and the effects of stress in their lives, and this is a good time to remind people of some of them.  So here’s my Top 40 list of the best stress reducers just in time for the holidays!

  • Have a quiet time every day early in the morning to read, meditate, or pray.
  • Take breaks more often than you do now.
  • Go for a nice relaxing or a brisk walk.
  • Take a deep breath before reacting negatively to someone or something.
  • Listen to great music.
  • Be sure to laugh as much as possible, including at yourself. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
  • Decide to be cheerful.
  • Wish good will to people you meet (even if you don’t feel like it).
  • Exercise at least three times a week doing something you enjoy at least a little.
  • Sleep seven to nine hours a night.
  • Have a hobby.  Do something you enjoy other than work.
  • Seek the help and advice of others whom you trust.
  • Make a conscious effort to think and act like the person you want to be.
  • Thoughts and attitudes lead to actions, but also actions lead to thoughts and attitudes.
  • Admit your anger or frustration.  Take responsibility for your feelings and find a healthy way of releasing them.
  • Establish and remind yourself of your priorities and the BIG PICTURE.
  • Remind yourself that a year from now, most of the things upsetting you now will probably not matter.
  • Spend time reading interesting or fun books, conversing, watching programs that lift your spirit.
  • Allow extra time for the unexpected. Give yourself more freedom.
  • Become aware of tense muscles and relax them.  Better yet, go get a massage.
  • Put regularity into your life; set time for meals, religious practices, and recreation.
  • Make a realistic list of tasks to accomplish each day, and celebrate your successes when you accomplish them.
  • Do not overload your schedule. Learn to say “no”.
  • Listen quietly for people to finish their sentences.
  • Talk to your friends and relatives. Keep in touch.
  • Get up 15 minutes earlier than you think you need to.
  • Prepare for the morning the night before.
  • Don’t rely on your memory. Write it down in a planner.
  • Simplify meal times.
  • Remember you always have options/choices.
  • Pet a friendly dog or cat.
  • Look for the silver lining in the dark clouds.
  • Know your limitations and don’t be afraid to let others know them, too.
  • Write a note of love and encouragement to a far away friend.
  • Remember that stress is an attitude.
  • Quit trying to “fix’ other people. Instead focus on being the best person YOU can be.
  • For perspective, remember that your whole life is just a blip on the screen of eternity.
  • Take specific action steps to change or solve what you actually have control over.
  • Let go of the things you DON’T have control over. Sometimes you just have to let go and let God.

Start practicing a few of these, make them habits, and you will be making serious progress in one of the biggest areas of Lifestyle Medicine – stress management. 

We hope you have a blessed, and not a stressed, holiday season!