Beat the Holiday Stress and Ask Yourself These Questions, a Top Ten List
By Cheryl Kuczynski '06, G'08, Chair, Undergraduate Program in Occupational Therapy and Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy
1. What is important to me?
Determine what you want to spend your time and energy on. What can you skip and what is important that you complete or attend? List the activities and prioritize those that have meaning and elicit positive feelings while avoiding those that create stress.
2. What do I need help with and who can assist?
Share the burden.
Do not feel like you have to do everything yourself. It is a season of giving and those around you are more willing than you think to lend a helping hand.
3. Do I need to spend that much?
Set a budget for yourself and stick to it. Browse for deals and homemade gifts that will cut the cost and keep you in the holiday spirit.
4. Can I go without technology?
While technology is a staple in our everyday lives it can add to stress. Set a certain amount of time in your day where you will go “tech-free” and simply enjoy the now. The constant alarms of our technology keep our bodies in a state of ready response increasing our stress.
5. What are realistic expectations?
It is likely that the same things that stressed you out last year will stress you out this year. Be aware of your expectations for the holiday season and those around you. Acknowledge the reality of others’ behaviors and holiday situations and plan how you will react to them ahead of time. No one is perfect.
6. What have I done for me?
Take care of yourself.
While the holidays are a time many overindulge, try to maintain a balance. Remember to exercise and eat right so that when the time for splurging comes you feel healthy to do so. Also be sure to get enough sleep and rest to fight the stress.
7. Am I stressed out?
Recognize signs of stress.
These are feelings of fatigue, anxiety, and headaches. Recognize when you are feeling stress and take time out. Go outside, get fresh air, and expose yourself to sunlight.
8. When was the last time I laughed?
Laughing reduces stress hormones and boosts the immune system. Take time to have fun with family and friends and even schedule it in if you feel the need.
9. Am I relaxed?
Simply relax. For you that may mean an early present to yourself with a pedicure or massage. It can be as simple as lighting a candle for aromatherapy or favorite music in a comfy chair.
10. Do I appreciate the now?
Enjoy the moment.
The holidays are a time to appreciate what you have. Take a glance at what is around you and see the positives. Volunteer to those less fortunate to better appreciate your wealth.
American Occupational Therapy Association (2002). Beating the Holiday Blues. Retrieved from http://www.aota.org/-/media/Corporate/Files/AboutOT/consumers/MentalHealth/Blues/Blues.ashx