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Tips for Surviving the Stress of the Holidays

By Sharyn Alden

Updated November 01, 2012

Walk your way to less stress

Exercise is another important stress reducer---particularly during the winter, when many people aren't as active as they are during other times of the year. Experts say exercise is one of the best ways to combat stress and anxiety. And you can make a difference to your health regime by adding just 10 minutes of exercise to your daily routine.

Jane Clark, Fitness Director at Millberry Recreation & Fitness Center at the Medical School at the University of California at San Francisco, says walking is one of the healthiest ways to reduce stress. Clark, who is involved with health promotion and is a certified instructor by the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Council of Exercise, says, "Organize your activities so they include walking. Walk before the holiday dinner, walk after the dinner."

She points out that while fitness programs are beneficial, it's easy to add exercise by just changing the patterns of your life.

For example, divide laundry into several small loads, then make several trips up the stairs. It takes more time, but you're helping your physical and emotional well being when you do it this way.

Another way to add in more exercise is to park as far as away from the shopping centers as possible. Don't drive around looking for the closest place to the front door. Park away from the crowds. The extra exercise from walking is a health benefit--to say nothing of the fact that you might avoid a fender bender in a congested parking area--a stressful situation in itself.

You'll be more motivated to add exercise in your life if you "partner" with a friend. Clark notes, "When you've made a commitment to take a class with a friend, chances are you'll show up more often, and get more out of it--plus, you'll have a built-in social outlet."

When stress is more than you can handle alone

For many people, the combination of stress from the holidays, work, troubled relationships or health problems can become overwhelming. "When one area of your life is interfering with another area, it may be time to seek treatment," points out Dr. John Greist, CEO of Healthcare Technology Systems and clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin Medical School in Madison, Wisconsin.

Greist is one of the doctors behind the development of COPE, (visit www.copewithlife.com) which uses phone technology so callers can access personalized, clinically sound advice, from any touch-tone phone, 24-hours a day.

"COPE was developed to help people who don't have the time, access or finances for traditional psychotherapy," says Greist. "It's a complementary program for traditional psychotherapy, as well as a self-help tool for those who want to gain more control over their lives."

During the holidays, COPE is especially convenient because a person doesn't need to make an appointment, then maybe wait weeks to get in to see someone---after the crush of the holidays have passed. COPE callers can access advice for their concerns even in the middle of the night. For more information call (888) 320-7745.

Recognizing stress, then taking steps to reduce it, can help families survive the most frenetic season of the year. You may even learn to love the speed bumps, also known as the holidays, once again.

  1. About.com
  2. Health
  3. Depression
  4. Types of Depression
  5. Seasonal Affective Disorder
  6. Holiday Blues
  7. Holiday Stress Survival Tips

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