Keep Holiday Stress Under Control

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stressedwomanOverscheduling, expecting perfection and ignoring personal well-being all take their toll during the holidays and send stress levels skyrocketing. This season, come back to earth and get grounded with some simple advice.

Feeling stress during the holiday season is common among Americans. Some feel rushed and overscheduled, others are concerned about finances or feel pressure to buy that perfect gift.

Denise McGuire, PhD is a licensed psychologist and emotional fitness coach at the University of Colorado Anschutz Health and Wellness Center at the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, Colo. McGuire pays special attention to “mindfulness” with her clients, utilizing biofeedback and other mind-body approaches for optimal health. “We have a tendency to go to extremes during the holiday season,” says McGuire. “Many of us over focus on doing and ignore our well-being which is a recipe for stress.”

In October, McGuire served as the mental and emotional fitness coach at the CU Anschutz Health and Wellness Center’s first Extreme Weight Loss: Destination Boot Camp weight loss transformation program and will return in the same role next year. The first boot camps were a sell-out success and dates have just been announced for 2015.

Not surprisingly, McGuire’s first tip for surviving the pressures of holiday stress is exercising regularly.

Exercise: if you have a regular exercise routine, stick with it. If not, even a 15 to 20 minute walk each day will help keep you relaxed.

Keep it real: making the holidays perfect for yourself and for others is impossible. Manage your expectations and focus on the people in your life instead of the perfect gift.

Stay on schedule: keeping your regular routine as much as possible will help you stay calm. This includes sleeping, eating, working, hobbies and exercising.

Pace the fun: too much of a good thing can be overwhelming. Avoid overscheduling.

Stay positive: dwelling on the negative adds to your stress level. Focus on all the good things going on in your life.

Be grateful: letting others know how much you appreciate them keeps them, and you, relaxed.

You’re not alone: plenty of others are experiencing the same holiday stress you are. Showing some compassion for them will help keep everyone a little more calm, including yourself.