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Minimize Holiday Stress This Year

by Nicole Dorsey Straff

IMG_2272If you are anything like me, and I’m betting you are based on your Comments and Clicks, I suffer mild anxiety around the holidays based more on what I cannot do rather than what I should do. For instance, I wish I could bring my frail mother here to Los Angeles, Calif.  for the holidays, but we both recognize that she’ll be too uncomfortable traveling across the country. (Even if it is to visit her only grandchild, my 7-year-old son, Sam.)

So, this type of deficient caregiving situation delivers stress directly to my holiday door. You too?  Especially for those family members who work full-time and have kids and/or spouses:  We are all collectively stressed out before the holidays. If we plan to travel en masse this month or next, it’s stress-outs times three.

In Anxiety 101: The Holistic Approach to Managing Your Anxiety and Taking Back Your Life (2013) Dr. Eudene Harry provides an overview of the many faces of anxiety, as well as ways to manage symptoms while maintaining productivity. Dr. Harry, an expert in emergency medicine, notes that in a society that desires a pill for every ill, “It’s so important that we learn the root causes behind a patient’s anxiety in order to form both a proper diagnosis and treatment regimen.”

Approximately 16 million Americans may suffer from seasonal anxiety, and Harry and other experts suggest integrative holistic treatments such as daily meditation, yoga and even prayer, to soothe several stress symptoms, and feel more gratitude for the people and the things you can cherish throughout the season. “Exercising for 30 to 60 minutes every day [you feel down] is an instant, natural pick-me-up,” says fitness expert Kent Burden, author of the “Workout at Work” series.Aim for 30 minutes even spread out through the day whenever you can fit it in.”

_MG_0452Harry offers other suggestions for tuning into the sources of your holiday stress and proactively minimizing your own symptoms. Also she urges, “Know when to get help.”

Think Constructively. Narrow down what you need to feel better and choose a better-feeling thought.
Surrender Negative Attitudes. Let go, lie down and breath for 10 minutes by meditating or practicing martial arts, journaling and connecting to a source of innermost calm. “Take a long walk outside to connect with nature,” urges Burden.
Shift Your Mood. Engage in activities that take your mind off of the stressful subject. This includes listening to music, aromatherapy and seeing a visually striking image that can motivate you positively. “Walk a dog, volunteer to coach kids, call your best friend from college and let it rip,” urges Burden.

What can you do to soothe stress during this time of year?

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