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Stop Holiday Stress in its Tracks Today

by Dr. Kathleen Hall

Holiday stress is exceptionally high this year. We are experiencing the pandemic, isolation, disorientation, cold winter weather, financial insecurity, and post-election stress all simultaneously. We all must take seriously the psychological and physical effects of stress this year. Find more stress tips at The Stress Institute.

Look for Psychological Symptoms

  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Hypervigilance
  • Outbursts of anger
  • Increase in drinking alcohol or using drugs
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Fatigue
  • Hopelessness
  • Loss of interest/passion
  • Sadness
  • Social withdrawal
  • And persistent thoughts of death.

Look for Physical Symptoms 

  • Increase heart rate
  • Increase in blood pressure
  • Hyperventilation
  • Insomnia or oversleeping
  • Loss of energy
  • Overeating or loss of appetite

Tips to Stop Holiday Stress

  1. Write it down. The brain can get overwhelmed with too much to do and too much information. Begin your de-stressed holiday season by making lists. Write everything down. Write down specific details such as gift list, decorating, food, and holiday finances.
  2. Money. Finances are the number one concern during the holidays. Three out of four Americans overspend during this time of the year. Create a budget and stick to it, and there will be fewer unexpected expenses during the holidays. You may want to try budgeting apps such as MintPocketGuard, and Wally.
  3. Gift list. Create a unique gift list. Shop online all year-round to watch for clearances and sales. Buy gift certificates, spa vouchers, or give money to the recipient’s favorite charity in their name.
  4. Family and friends. Since most of us will not be visiting our friends and relatives, get creative. For example, start a family or friend newsletter with updates and photos of every person’s life over the past year. Follow up with a Zoom call so you can laugh, cry, and share what is going on in everyone’s life. We need connection, especially during this holiday season.
  5. Depression. The holiday season can contribute to feelings of being overwhelmed, lonely, remembering losses, and possibly leading to depression. Therefore if your mood begins to sink, make sure you let others know and get help. When you first start to get sad and depressed, let your friends and family know so they can keep tabs on you. Remember, when a person devolves into depression, they are often in the middle of this horrible darkness and can’t think clearly. If you believe you are getting depressed please contact a friend, family member, or your physician immediately.

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