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NewBridge Services’ Guide to Reducing Stress, Increasing Joy During the Holidays

Thursday, December 13, 2018
Snow falling on a tree branch

Find some serenity during the hectic holiday season.

Here in the midst of another holiday season, many of us want to be reflective and spend quality time with loved ones, but instead we feel stressed, with too much to do in too little time. The season becomes something to survive instead of savor.

“The holidays often add layers of obligations on top of our already busy lives,” said NewBridge Services Chief Operating Officer Michelle Borden, a licensed clinical social worker. Shopping, baking, decorating, RSVPing and traveling can make even holiday aficionados wish for Jan. 2. The season also can magnify feelings of loss and loneliness, she said.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, stop what you’re doing and take several deep inhales, exhaling slowly. Let your shoulders drop and visualize one part of the season that brings you peace.

That should help clear your head for the moment, but there’s more you can do to reclaim calm so you can enjoy the beauty of the season:

  • Write down all you expect to accomplish and then pare that list as much as possible. Setting realistic expectations can spare you feelings of inadequacy and prevent holiday burnout. If you’re entertaining, take shortcuts like buying some prepared foods and asking guests to bring a favorite dish to share.
  • Speaking of parties, you don’t have to say yes to all of them. Attend the ones that have the most meaning to you. Be sure to mark your calendar and give yourself reminders.
  • If you’re still shopping, make a list of people you buying gifts for and set a budget. That will help stop you from making a lot of impulse purchases. You don’t want a financial hangover when the January credit card bills arrive.
  • Don’t overindulge on food or alcohol. That just makes you feel bad about yourself, and gives you more to deal with in the new year. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
  • Exercise at least a little each day to boost your energy and feel accomplished.
  • Keep weekday meals simple to open up more time for holiday activities. If you can, prepare those meals ahead of time.
  • Before bedtime, spend a few minutes enjoying your lighted Christmas tree or glowing candles.
  • Take a walk or drive to check out the holiday light displays in your neighborhood.
  • Connect with your spirituality. Attend religious services if that is meaningful to you.
  • Donate to a cause you care about, and consider volunteer opportunities in the new year.
  • If you’ve lost a loved one, honor them in some small way, alone or with others.
  • Remember the deep breathing advice? Consider spending at least five minutes a day doing some form of meditation.

“As in everyday life, you don’t have control over all that happens during the holiday season, so focus on what is within your domain and make that wonderful,” Borden said. If you are struggling with anxiety, NewBridge can provide professional help. Call (973) 316-9333 or visit newbridge.org.

NewBridge Services wishes you and your family a peace-filled season.

 

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