You know you shouldn’t get worked up over little things like your mother in law re-organizing your entire kitchen or your kid throwing a tantrum every time you leave the house to buy HIS CHRISTMAS PRESENTS. We know this time of year is especially testing. So, how do people who specialize in helping others relieve stress relieve their own?

FirstHealth’s Dr. Meredith Stanton tells us:

“I love running to relieve stress, but I do not always have the time to get that sweaty. Not everyone enjoys running, but exercise is an excellent way to reduce the effects of stress on your body. Getting your heart rate up for even as little as 30 minutes a couple times per week has shown to reduce stress in adults. Going for a walk with your dog, attending a group fitness class, or dancing around with your kids are great ways to get your blood pumping.”

 “My other secret for stress relief is reading, and I love funny, ridiculous novels [or, ahem, newsletters] that make me laugh at loud or transport me to another world.  I am a sucker for romance or fantasy books and am not afraid to admit it. I read every night after my children are asleep to wind down from the day instead of watching Netflix, but I have to be carefree to not get too engrossed and stay up late reading or I will have a  ‘reading hangover’ from lack of sleep.”

 Other tips for for staying sane this holiday season:

— Stop feeling guilty about taking time for yourself. You don’t have to hang out with your family every second of the day. Even just a few minutes away can boost happiness.

— Remind yourself that you’re doing what you can. Your dinner guests are late and the dry cleaner lost your ugly sweater, but those things are beyond your control. Just enjoy the moments before it’s all over, because it’ll be a whole year to experience the madness again.

— When you find yourself getting overwhelmed with everything you have to do (buying presents, buying wrapping paper, buying separate wrapping paper for Santa — can’t the guy do anything for himself? — wrapping presents, cooking, cleaning, entertaining, showering) take a step back. Stop worrying about the past or future. Focus on your immediate surroundings and the present moment. Take every moment one step at a time, make your to-do list, and remind yourself that you can only control the now.

Need help managing your stress? Talk to the specialists at FirstHealth’s Behavioral Services Division.

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