Ways to Minimize Holiday Stress (article courtesy of The New Haven Register)

Stress

Lighten load to minimize holiday stress, says University of New Haven radio host

Published: Sunday, December 02, 2012

By Pamela McLoughlin, Register Staff

Are the holidays stressing you out?
If so, maybe it’s too much pressure to create the perfect holiday meal or to find the ideal holiday gifts that you can’t really afford anyway.
Or maybe it’s the dread of the dynamics that family get-togethers bring. Worse yet, there are the unexpected drop-ins.
There’s lots of running around to stores, the post office, children’s holiday performances, visiting relatives. Sometimes you’re missing loved ones no longer around.

You feel depleted. Your own enjoyment and welfare doesn’t even make it to last on the priority list.

Well, there’s no escaping the holidays all together, but certified life coach, author and self-help expert Raeleen D. Mautner, has advice for lightening the load and maybe even adding a little enjoyment.
“We throw ourselves into a whirlwind of chaos,” Mautner said. “We can’t be everything to everybody.”

Mautner said good stress “gets the juices flowing,” but bad stress “takes a mental, emotional and physical toll,” and leaves us feeling angry, frustrated and overwhelmed.

The latter stress also takes a physical toll, leading to a weakened immune system, high blood pressure, stroke and heart attacks, she said.

“You can achieve serenity and combat the destructive kind of stress through consistent action,” Mautner said.  “Much of it is about finding the oasis inside of us,” said Mautner, host of the morning radio program, “The Art of Living Well,” broadcast Monday’s at 7 a.m. from University of New Haven’s radio station WNHU, 88.7.

Here are a few practical tips from Mautner:

—If you are in charge of a big holiday meal, don’t try to do all the preparation. Ask others to pitch in and bring a favorite dish. They may even like that idea.

—Make a roadmap for getting things done so you don’t feel like you have to tackle it all at once.

—Eat basic, healthful foods during the hectic pre-holiday stage, but don’t deprive yourself of indulgence in the foods you really love during holiday get-togethers.

—If you find yourself stress-eating, stop and walk around, put on some favorite music. You can just listen or sing and dance. Force yourself to make a positive facial expression — it will help change your outlook on the inside. Maybe even take a relaxing bath with bath salts.

—You have a choice as to what to think about, so watch a favorite movie or television show. This will help you dwell on the happy.

—If you’re having negative or sad thoughts, try a “thought float” exercise. Close your eyes, imagine your stressors (people, events, situations, etc.), trapped in a helium balloon and floating away until they disappear.

—Change your breathing. Take deep breaths, inhale through your nose, hold it for four seconds, exhale through the mouth.

—Take time to think about the positives in your life — those things you are grateful for, such as children, pets, having a job.

—In this season of doing for others, it can help to give yourself a “present” each day – maybe a half hour with your favorite magazine, a meditation break or even a visit to a place of beauty such as a museum or place of worship.

For more holiday stress-relieving tips visit: http://RaeleenMautner.com

Mautner’s book, to be released in 2013, is called, “Lemons into Limoncello” and is about rebuilding life following adversity.

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