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How To Cope With Holiday Stress


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In any situation, when stress starts to kick in, it is extremely difficult to reverse the chain reaction downward. Especially during the holiday season when stressors seem to be lurking around every corner, “holiday burnout” often becomes inevitable.

Here are two key concepts for managing stress through the holiday season (no matter your religious or non-religious affiliations):

Boundaries
Decide what your boundaries are for how much you can do. If your goal is to be vibrant and loving then you need to set yourself up to be in that frame of mind and not over commit yourself. It is critical during the holiday season to resolve not let your loved ones or close friends push you into overextending yourself above and beyond what you can handle.

Time Management

There are definite pressures for which you must prepare. Whether it’s parties, children’s performances, obligations with friends, work, school or social expectations, you, personally, can get lost in the shuffle. You can’t say yes or try to make time for everything that is asked of you. It will make you crazy. Learn to say no! 

Here are couple of suggestions to incorporate into your daily routine that I find helpful for coping with stress during the holiday season: 

Take A Moment for Positivity

Start your day by setting aside 15 minutes to light a candle, pause, pray, write and remember what you are grateful for and the good aspects of your life. This way you can start the day focusing on the positives rather than the negatives

Just Say No

Make smart choices that are in your best interest instead of always saying yes. Feel good about saying no! Use this as an opportunity to understand what matters most and how many responsibilities you are capable of handling before they turn into stressful obligations

Take A Look Within

What is it that causes your stress around the holidays? Is it just fear of socializing? Is it a lack of self-esteem? Fear of drinking or eating foods that will trigger you in a negative way? Maybe there is a root cause of this stress that is triggered during the holidays that you can identity and address not just for a healthier and happier holiday season, but for your life in general

Don’t Project

More often than not when you have to say no to something, a friend or family will not be as upset as you think they might be. And if you show up stressed, frazzled or not truly wanting to attend, you are not doing a service to your friends/family. Realize that your fear of letting them down may be based on your own feelings, rather than theirs. People are usually pretty understanding!

Reject “FOMO”

Many of us experience FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). There is no need to fear you will miss something if you politely decline an invitation. Just let that feeling go and focus your efforts on truly enjoying the moment

Consider Yourself First

Take care of yourself first. Treat yourself with love and respect. The best way to make those around you happy is to first ensure that you yourself are happy! That is when you will have the most to give. Make sure to take a little time each day to do something just for you. Whether it’s yoga, reading a book or having a great cappuccino, make time for self-care

For me, as a Rabbi and Cantor, the holiday season begins after Sukkot, the autumn harvest season in Judaism. It is the time of year that I find the strength to make a commitment to better health practices that include a healthier diet and more exercise through all the holidays including Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah (which is early this year) and Christmas. By choosing to make healthy lifestyle choices, I know that I will feel better physically and have the energy to support my family, friends and congregation. 

Why not start your holiday coping mechanisms now? There is no time like the present to set the tone to combat the whirlwind of feelings that come along with the holidays and continue to practice these lifestyle choices throughout the coming year. 

I have faith that addressing your stress with these small changes can help you have a happier and healthier holiday season.

By Rabbi/Cantor Judy Greenfeld of Nachshon Minyan, Los Angeles