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Reducing your stress keeps the season sane

Deidre Ashley

December 13, 2017 | From Sound Mind | Jackson Hole News & Guide

All this nice weather we have had the past several weeks is making it difficult to get into the holiday spirit. Even my plants are confused and have started sprouting like it is spring.

What tends to happen this time of year, at least with me, is it all comes down to the wire with holiday plans. It is almost like I create my own stress. While the holidays can be full of wonderful things, they can also be attached to huge expectations, which likely leads to disappointment.

Life is already busy, and holiday tasks and activities can make it more so. So what is the best way to reduce your stress through the season?

Many in Jackson are away from their families and can feel isolated, and let’s not forget we are experiencing the shortest days of the year. Plus, we are under pressure, often from ourselves, to attempt to create the perfect holiday, and we’re facing overtaxed schedules and financial strain.

The latter can be one of the biggest stressors in daily life. Add holiday expectations to the mix, and that pressure rises. It’s tempting to overspend, and it’s difficult to not fall into the “buy, buy, buy” commercial messages that are everywhere.

You can reduce that pressure with a two-prong attack: Create and stick to a realistic budget, and remember that money isn’t the only way to show you care. Spending quality time with people you care about or giving homemade items can be even more heartfelt and meaningful.

Practicing random acts of kindness is also a great way to balance the stress of the season while keeping your pocketbook in order. It could be something as simple as letting someone else have the great parking space or complimenting a store employee who has obviously had a stressful day. It’s the season for giving, so give what you can. It will also give you a gratitude boost for the positives in your own life.

Planning can be the biggest stress reducer. Planning menus, shopping days and social events can help you feel prepared, but don’t forget to schedule some down time as well. Give yourself permission to let some things go, and be realistic about your time. Learn to say no to some things. You can’t do everything and be everywhere. It’s common to get caught up in the shoulds, so take some time to suss out the difference between things you have to do and those you want to do.

And when it comes to time, take a moment to take a breath every once in awhile. Enjoy what you are doing in the moment. Notice the beautiful light displays or holiday decorations.

Sticking with your regular healthy habits will also curb stress during the holiday season. Goodies and treats are everywhere, but try to limit overindulgence and maintain your exercise routine. Getting plenty of rest and sleep is also important. Disruption in sleep can make you feel run down and add to depression and anxiety.

If you are not able to experience your favorite holiday traditions, create some. Some great memories involve groups of friends who are enjoying new traditions they’re making together.

In summary, be realistic as you head into the holidays. It is often our own expectations that set us up for disappointment. Family, events or parties do not have to be perfect to be enjoyable.