How To Deal With the Holiday Madness
For many people, the holiday season is the happiest time of the year. But for others, it can also be the most stressful. From shopping, to decorations, to party planning, to family gatherings, the "joys" of the holidays can quickly turn into a major stress. "Often, small stresses on a daily basis really do add up, and impact not only how we feel emotionally but also can impact our health in terms of our well being," says Dr. James Bray, professor of family and community medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. A recent study by Penn State University shows that so-called "everyday stress" can lead to chronic health problems later in life.
Dr. Bray says the solution is simply not allowing yourself to become overwhelmed this time of year. "It's important to continue to do your routine, eat as health as you can, take time to exercise, and really kind of step back and take a few moments to just relax." That can be easier said than done when you have overbearing relatives to deal with. "Holiday times are times we get together with family members," says Dr. Bray. "Most of the time that's a positive thing, but sometimes that reactivates old wounds or old problems." He recommends limiting time with relatives that cause you grief, and trying to focus on the positive aspects of the holidays.
One thing Dr. Bray does not recommend is drowning your sorrows. "If you drink too much alcohol, you're gonna be more susceptible to being emotionally reactive to that," he says. "So it's important to limit your alcohol consumption." Ultimately, Dr. Bray says dealing with holiday stress is really about perspective. "Try to keep it simple and remember that the most important thing is about spending time with your loved ones, friends and family. That's the real priority."