Handling holiday stress

by Heather Robinson
U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern

The holiday season is here and while many find it an exciting time of year, some experience stress and loss. Too much stress can lead to loss of sleep, appetite, difficulty focusing, headaches, stomach aches and problems in relationships, both at home and on the job.

Stress relief can be found by setting regular sleep patterns with limited light and noise, eating balanced light meals, regular exercise and avoiding alcohol, caffeine and nicotine at least three hours before bed time.

One of the leading causes of stress is not having enough time. To avoid this, plan ahead and leave plenty of time to get things done. Also, nicely set boundaries with others. It is OK to say “no” to invitations or special holiday projects and make time for yourself and your family.

Delegate to family members and co-workers and make a to-do list. Crossing off completed items will give you a sense of accomplishment. The to-do list will also prevent spending excessively by planning ahead for the number of gifts and how much is in your budget to spend. At the end of the holiday, the money and time left over can be spent on a nice massage, dinner with family or friends or relaxing in any manner you choose.

Choices and attitude are powerful. Educate yourself about the choices you are making and how they will impact you, your family and your stress level. If you have limited alternatives reframe how you think about the particular event and look for the silver lining. You still have the choice of talking yourself into being distressed and miserable or making the best of the situation. When all else fails, look up, breathe, count to 10 and then move on.

Finally, lend a helping hand to others in need. Often when we look to help others we discover just how blessed we are. The warm feeling that comes from others by sharing the holiday, an event, offering assistance during a time of need or just dropping a toy in the gift box at the base exchange might be enough to provide all the stress relief you need this holiday season.

For more information on how to manage stress and have a safe holiday, call the U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern’s Employee Assistance Program USAG at 486-1710.