5 tips for less holiday stress

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holidayStressBy Betsy Stein

The holidays multiply the everyday stress of parenthood but there are two things that Annapolis psychologist Cheryl Rubenstein says help keep it all in perspective.

First remember that while parenting is hard, it's a gift. Second, remember that it's the people that matter.

"That's something I have to remind myself all the time," Rubenstein admits.


How to manage holiday stress

Here are five tips from Rubenstein, Severna Park counselor Brandy Routhier and the Anne Arundel County Department of Health to help manage stress this holiday season.

  1. Don't over schedule. Be okay with not accepting every invitation to cookie swaps, parties and gift exchanges. "You can't duplicate yourself and be everywhere for everyone," says Routhier. "Plan ahead in your schedule to see what you can reasonably do over the holidays instead of overwhelming yourself and becoming stressed, exhausted and resentful."
  2. Prioritize. Make a list of the things you want and need to do for the holidays and then put them in order of importance. "Once they are prioritized, it becomes a little easier to figure out where to spend our energy, what to cut," Rubenstein says. "Sometimes it's more like triage, but you get the idea."
  3. Keep things in perspective. Remember what the holidays truly mean to you and your family. Take a deep breath and have everyone in the family pledge to make the holiday season a time of joy and peace. Rubenstein suggests using the "relaxing breath" when loosing perspective — inhale, hold for a bit, and then exhale slowly. "It's amazing, but if you do that in stressful situations, it changes things," she says.
  4. Take time out for yourself. Have a cup of coffee, go for a walk on a crisp day, relax by a crackling fire, Rubenstein suggests. "When you take care of yourself you have more energy to tackle all the demands of the holidays," Routhier adds.
  5. Create family traditions. Many parents don't realize how important traditions are to themselves and their children. Pick the traditions that matter most and create new family traditions, Rubenstein suggests. But don't feel pressure. Figure out what works for your family and if something doesn't work, skip it and try something different next year, she says.

"Make a stress-free holiday your new family tradition," the Department of Health suggests in a press release. "In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, the holidays may be one of the few times when you can offer a present that only you can give — priceless memories of a holiday filled with fun, love and laughter for the entire family."

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