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Holiday Season Stress Relief is Here!

What causes holiday season stress, and how can one successfully manage it, while still enjoying all the season has to offer? Read on, and find your lifeline to a less-stressed season!

More Holiday Season Stress Relief
Stress Management Spotlight10

'Tis The Season For Some Self-Care

Thursday December 20, 2012
"How about a month of obligations, overspending, difficult travel and horrible weather?" - The pitch for the month of December.
(Jim Gaffigan quote that made me laugh)

During this time of year, people often become so busy with all the activities that come with the holidays--parties, shopping, baking, decorating, etc.--that they have less time for self-care. When we sleep too little and run too much, it can be a recipe for stress. (It can also become an in invitation for a cold, the holiday blues, or merely a damper for your festivities, none of which you want.) It's somewhat ironic, isn't it? We want so much to have fun and make the season special that we end up ruining our own good time (and probably affecting the holiday memories of our loved ones) by doing so many of these 'special' things that we can't take care of our basic needs quite as well as we should. Overtired, over-stimulated, and just plain crabby, we can find ourselves sick and tired of all the 'fun' we're having.

This year, give to yourself first--be sure to practice adequate (or even above-adequate) self care--and you'll find that you have more to give others. If you have some time to yourself, you'll be excited for the holiday parties you can attend; if you are rested enough, you'll have the energy for all the activities; if you eat your healthy food, you'll be able to better handle dessert (or eat less of it, and thank yourself when you tackle your new years goals in a few weeks). You may just decide find more ways to make your new year fantastic by maintaining better self care in 2012, which can be a great way to relieve stress.

Here are some resources that can help:

  • Top 10 Self-Care Strategies
    What are the most important things to remember when taking care of yourself, and how should you go about adopting them into your lifestyle? Read on, and see.

  • Combat Holiday Overeating
    Maintaining a healthy diet during the holiday season can be extra-challenging. These tips can help you identify your triggers, and find ways around them.

  • Readers' Top Self-Care Strategies
    Sometimes the best advice can be the tried-and-true tip from someone who stumbled upon it during their own stressful times. See other readers' best tips for self care, or share your own favorite strategies.

  • Banish Holiday Perfectionism
    If you're too busy for your own good, it's time to cut corners! Here are some ways to just let go, where you'll never miss what you didn't do. Find more time by cutting out the activities that don't matter.

  • Find More On Facebook
    "Like" the Facebook group About Stress, and you'll find regular articles, inspirational quotes, and conversations about stress management that can help you remember to relax, and show you how.

The Flip Side Of Holiday Overwhelm

Thursday December 20, 2012
The holiday season is a time of activity: gift-giving, parties, seeing loved ones. All this activity can be fun, but it tends to become overwhelming for many people, especially as parties pile up, lists get longer, tug-o-wars between possible destinations ensue. It can truly feel like too much of a good thing.

The flip side of that is when people don't have enough to do, or rather don't feel they have enough people to celebrate with. For many, the holiday season can be a lonely time of year. When the focus is on togetherness, it's difficult for those who don't have close friends or family to celebrate with; when the focus is on gifts, it's painful to have too few people to exchange with. With all the pressure for celebration, those with fewer people to celebrate with can definitely feel set apart, and feel like there's a magnifying glass on this perceived lack in their life.

Even people with good friends and family in their lives may feel other kinds of socia pressures this time of year. For example, some singles get more pressure this time of year from well-meaning relatives who want to know when they are going to "settle down", or may feel a pull from inside if they find themselves wishing they had the perfect partner to celebrate special holiday times with.

Do you feel lonely at times during the holiday season? Do you feel pressure to have the perfect group of friends, perfect family, or perfect partner to celebrate the holidays with? Below are some resources to cope.

What are your best tips for coping with holiday loneliness? Share in the comments below--I'd love to hear! Also, you can join the Facebook group About Stress Management for more on stress and healthy living. We'd love to see you there!

Holidays on a Tight Budget? Stress Not!

Thursday December 20, 2012
The holiday season is one of many joys and many stresses, and, for many people, one of the main stressors of the holiday season--holiday spending--is becoming more stressful due to economic conditions! Many people are on budgets so tight they squeak, and the thought of dropping hundreds (or thousands!) of dollars on gifts for everyone on their list can bring more of an aching stomach than a warm heart.

If you're looking for ways to celebrate the holiday in a way that brings ample joy, closeness, and lasting memories, but without the lasting debt, I have some ideas for you! (You knew I would, didn't you?) The following resources can help you save as you celebrate, whatever your budget. Enjoy!

  • Cheap Gift Ideas
    Would you like to give inexpensive gifts to your nearest and dearest, or even call off some of the gift exchanges entirely in exchange for more love and fiscal sensibility? Here are some ways you might make that happen.

  • Why We Go in to Debt for Holiday Gifts
    If you're aware of why you might be going into debt for the holidays, and see that some of these ideas don't warrant the stress that holiday debt creates, it's easier to forge a new path for this year. Read on to find out more about holiday debt, the dirty secret that many of us don't realize we're keeping!

  • Holiday Stress and Stress Relief
    Why do we get stressed during the holiday season? Here are some common holiday stressors and ways to find relief!

  • Cheap Gift Idea: Journals
    I love giving journals as gifts for three reasons: they conform to the tastes of almost any recipient, they're inexpensive, and I love getting journals myself! If you're looking for a sensibly-priced gift idea, I suggest choosing the perfect journal for your recipient, and letting them have a gift that lasts.

  • READERS: Share Your Best Gift Ideas
    When gift-giving occasions come up, it's always good to have a few really great gift ideas up your sleeve--and what could be greater than gifts that relieve stress? Stress relief gifts are thoughtful and they're the gifts that truly keep on giving. Here you'll find readers' best stress relief gift ideas, as well as some of my own. To partake in the spirit of giving, you can also share your favorite stress relief gift ideas as they come to mind. Happy giving!

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How To Talk To Your Children About The Sandy Hook Tragedy

Monday December 17, 2012
Across the country--indeed, across the world--we have been heartbroken to hear the wrenching details of the events in Connecticut on December 14th. We want to honor the innocent victims--the children who were full of promise, and the adults who were each generous and loving, at least two of whom died heroically while trying to save others. Hearing the details, however, can also be very difficult. Most of us identify with the victims and are mourning the loss of people we did not know, and the pain of their families--and we feel for them deeply.

Tragedies like the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting can shake us to our core, for these reasons and because they can threaten our sense of safety in the world. Random acts of violence in general can affect how safe we feel in the world, but when the victims are very young children, teachers, and school personnel who are simply going about their daily routine our sense of safety is further threatened as we realize that this could have been any of our children or loved ones. This realization can hit children especially hard.

Due in part to the far reach of the media, children--even young children--may be hearing about the tragedy and may feel threatened. Children of all ages, from young children to teens, may feel unsettled and wonder if they themselves may be in danger. This may show up in young children as a fear of going to school, a voiced concern that they may not be safe there. Older children and teens may feel a general lack of safety in the world, a feeling that nobody is completely immune to tragedy. How does one go about talking to their kids, helping them with processing their concerns and and alleviating fears?

The following guidelines can help you to navigate some of the possibly uncomfortable but necessary conversations that may be taking place around these issues right now. Every child is different and every family has their own way of communicating, but here are some general thoughts that can help:

  • Listen, But Don't Give More Information Than Necessary
    Children may be curious about what exactly happened, but they don't necessarily need to know every details, as some of this information may create more fears. How much they should know depends on the age and personality of the child, as well as on how much they have already heard. Does your child tend to imagine the worst? Are they naturally fearful or cautious already? Do they already understand that random violence happens in the world, but that they are generally safe? If you have a teen, it is likely that they can go online to access whatever information they want to know, and by now, they probably have already done so. Younger children, however, may have heard information from their peers and their school may have already shared some information, but they may have limited facts, so it is a good idea to talk to them and let them tell you what they already know. Then answer questions and share what they can understand for their age level, but be sensitive to their needs for their level of maturity. Keep answers simple, particularly with younger children, or with children who do not show a strong need to talk. Having open lines of communication can help them feel safer, so it can help to have you as resource they can trust, but if they aren't asking or demonstrating that they want to know, it is okay not to share details that they don't need to know at this point.
  • Talk About Feelings--Carefully
    Your child may really need to share what they are feeling and have your help in making sense of these feelings. It is best to talk to your children about this only if you are in a healthy place with it yourself, meaning, be sure you are not feeling panicked about your child's safety when you talk to them, or you may transfer your fears to them. (If you are not feeling centered enough to talk to your children about this yet, you may want to wait to talk until you have processed some of your own emotions, or see if there is another trusted adult they can talk to, such as a school counselor.) If you feel up to it, however, it can be helpful to invite sharing. Older children may be able to articulate their feelings, while younger children may want to draw a picture, or may use few words. Let them know that it is okay to be sad, and it "normal" to be shaken up by this. Encourage them to be brave, and let them know they can talk to you. And be sure to listen.
  • Validate And Reassure
    If children are feeling anxiety, your listening can help them to feel validated and supported. You can also reassure them by reminding them how exceedingly rare these types of events really are. Although we tend to hear a lot about tragedies like these when they occur, the actual chances of something like this happening to a child are tiny. Sometimes children need this to be explained, and they then feel better.
  • Don't Force It
    Some children really may not feel a strong need to talk about this, and that is okay. Children react in unique ways; children of certain ages and personality types really may not need to talk. (For example, some very young children may not grasp the permanence of these losses.) In such cases, well-meaning adults can help create more negative feelings than would have otherwise been there. Other times, the need to talk may come a little later. Let your child know that you are there if needed, but let them say if they need to talk.
  • Provide Extra Time Together
    Most parents are holding their children a little more tightly right now. This feeling may be mutual--kids may need to feel the closeness of their parents a little more right now. Be sure to spend a little extra time with your kids, if possible, in the next few days. This can allow them to feel reassured on a nonverbal level, and provide more opportunities to talk if they need to.
  • Provide Extra Time Together
    Most parents are holding their children a little more tightly right now. This feeling may be mutual--kids may need to feel the closeness of their parents a little more right now. Be sure to spend a little extra time with your kids, if possible, in the next few days. This can allow them to feel reassured on a nonverbal level, and provide more opportunities to talk if they need to.
  • Take Care Of Yourselves
    During times of great stress, it is not uncommon to find it difficult to sleep, experience a loss of apetite, or even have trouble concentrating. Be sure to make a concerted effort toward self-care. Be sure you and your children are getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and maintaining a schedule that includes "down time." This can help with coping.
  • Know Where To Get Help
    Be aware that there are resources in the community that can help if you need it. Your child's school will likely have information on hand to help families cope, and you can access your child's school counselor, your family doctor, or a therapist if you see signs in yourself or your children that concern you.

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