6 tips to surviving a stressful Christmas
1. Some relatives come looking for a fight. “Make sure you dont overdose yourself on people you can predict will be unpleasant,” said Dr. Paul Brinich, an adjunct clinical professor in UNC’s Department of Psychology. “If you can only tolerate them for two hours, set a time limit. Then you can remind yourself, I only have to put on this happy face for X amount of time.”
2. Four days until Christmas and your list is still a mile long? “Dont look at the big picture or you’ll be overwhelmed,” advises Steve Siebold, author of “177 Mental Toughness Secrets of the World Class.” Break down the tasks ahead and tackle them individually.
3. Your mother-in-law got a good deal on airfare, so she’s staying two weeks instead of one. Your husband announces he’s going hunting for one of those weeks. And please dont tell me those aren’t bedbugs. Your life is straight out of Fox’s Sunday night lineup-and that’s OK, says Debbie Mandel. “See your life as a sitcom,” advises the author of “Addicted to Stress.” If it helps, think of yourself as Marge Simpson. Remember, “Cosby” was fiction, too.
4. You’re among teh nearly 10% of Americans without a job and you can’t afford gifts. Still, the urge to break out the Visa is strong. Don’t give in. “There’s no shame in readjusting the scope of your gifts in order to avoid a sackful of debt,” said David Reiser, a senior vice president of wealth management with Morgan Stanley Smith Barney.
5. Recognizing the early warning signs of stress – racing heart, shortness of breath, clenched jaw – is enough to help you diffuse it, says Jeffrey Greeson, clinical health psychologist at Duke University. “By just paying attention,” he suggests, “you may be able to feel it but not feed it.”
6. Don’t nag – it’ll make you fat. A common response when you feel things are out of control is to nag. Resist the urge, advises Dr. Michael Finkelstein, director of SunRaven, a holistic healing center in New York. “This type of aggression actually triggers a response in your brain that causes the release of cortisol, a hormone that alters your metabolism and among other things wastes your energy and causes you to store fat.”