While the holidays are a time for joy and sharing, they can also be a time of physical and mental stress, said Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service specialists.
“There are many behavioral and logistical changes you can make during the holidays to lower stress and benefit your overall wellness,” said Joyce Cavanagh, AgriLife Extension specialist in family economics, College Station.
Prioritize and plan to help reduce stress
Managing holiday stress requires setting priorities as well as avoiding or reducing as many stressors as possible, Cavanagh said.
Cavanagh said be sure to budget for gifts to be purchased during holiday shopping pay using cash or a debit card whenever possible. Be realistic when creating a budget by using real prices, not ballpark figures. And don’t forget to include extra travel, food and entertaining costs into your holiday budget.
“If you must buy with credit, act as if you have far less than your actual credit limit,” she said. “And remember your credit card interest rate to remind you to be more frugal about using credit.”
Cavanagh said stress also occurs as a result of not adequately keeping track of purchases.
Count your calories — and blessings
Cavanagh said holiday stress can lead to overeating, which is one of the biggest challenges to individual wellness during this time of year.
Remember to focus on your blessings instead of trying to keep up with the Smiths or Joneses, said Angela McCorkle, AgriLife Extension program specialist.
Consider thrifty gifting
“If gifts are part of the holiday celebration, don’t let the pressure of giving gifts surpass your ability to pay for them,” she said, “Consider exchanging hand-made gifts such as soaps, baked goods or framed family photos.”
Make time for rest, exercise and recreation
Cavanagh said a lot of time-management-related stress can be alleviated by allowing additional time when scheduling visits or entertaining others, and by asking for help with holiday activities.
“Try to avoid multiple visits and pad your time to provide flexibility and accommodate any unforeseen circumstances,” she said. “Prioritize what’s really important to you and your family, then plan your holiday activities accordingly.”
She also noted while some people draw energy from being around people, others may find it stressful or draining.
Through the application of science-based knowledge, AgriLife Extension creates high-quality, relevant continuing education that encourages lasting and effective change.