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Tis the Season to Feel Anxious?

(Originally posted Nov. 16th)

As the holidays approach, we know that it should be a season to feel joyful and jolly.  But often, the extra demands of the holidays (increased spending, increased social obligations, increased caloric intake, increased traffic, etc…) create increased pressure on us.
How can we spread good cheer when we’re not feeling it ourselves?  We can’t.  But with some precautionary self-care, we can make the holiday season merry and bright.  Here are our top 5 tips for managing holiday stress:
1.  Don’t abandon your healthy habits.  Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt.  Before heading out to a holiday party, enjoy a healthy snack at home so you don’t go overboard on party food and drink.  Don’t drop exercise from your schedule to accommodate other demands; it’s even more important at this time of the year!  Likewise, don’t sacrifice sleep.  Santa and his elves might work around the clock to spread Christmas cheer, but that doesn’t mean you should!
2.  Create a new holiday tradition-15 minutes alone each day!  Make some time for yourself. Just a few minutes alone, without distractions, will refresh you and give you more energy to handle all of the things you need to do.  Gaze at the Christmas tree.  Take a short walk to admire the lights in the neighborhood.  Or, listen to holiday music while you sip a cup of peppermint tea.  Find a quiet activity that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing and restoring your inner calm.
3.  Set your priorities. It’s important to decide what traditions mean the most to you.  Pick a few favorite activities and eliminate the rest.  Santa isn’t the only one who should make a list and check it twice.  Take a pen and paper and ask yourself: What do you value, above all else? Is it spirituality, family, time for yourself?  What comes second? Third? After some thought and reflection, rank your top priorities and place your list in your calendar.  Refer to it when asked to make commitments and decline if the invitations do not match up with your priorities.
4.  Energize your body and your self-image.  It goes without saying that you should eat well, drink plenty of water, get enough sleep, and exercise.  But during the holidays it also helps to give yourself an extra boost of energy.  A great haircut, a pedicure with bright red polish, a massage, or a relaxing acupuncture treatment can do wonders for your physical and your emotional well-being!
5.  Acknowledge and approve of your feelings.  If you’re feeling a sense of loss or loneliness; if you’re experiencing chronic stress or anxiety; or if you’re experiencing depression or insomnia, then you need more than mild stress reduction techniques.  Talk with a professional who can provide assistance in helping you cope during this especially difficult time. 
For more ideas on how to effectively manage holiday stress, we recommend Reader’s Digest’s 37 helpful stress management tips.  Note how many of them are based on the principles of acupressure, acupuncture, and the self-care concepts encouraged in Eastern medicine!