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Getting Through the Season without Stress


Relax. It's the holidays. No need to get caught up in the stress-inducers of the season. Here are some things you can do to keep yourself feeling calm and centered as you go about your business this December:

-- Spend money wisely

Going to extremes with your Christmas spending can have a big impact on your health. Research has shown that many Americans spend the first six months of each year paying off the credit card bills they created at Christmas.

People who worry about credit card bills are more likely to suffer from

  • Sleeplessness
  • Difficulty controlling emotions
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Heart problems

    -- Plan ahead before you shop

    Make a list of people you'll be buying presents for, and decide in advance how much money you can afford to spend. Stick with those numbers. Take a calculator with you when you shop, so that you don't lose track of your total. If at all possible, take cash when you shop, and leave your credit card at home. That way, you'll be spending only what you already have, and your credit card bills won't be any higher in January.

    -- Avoid indigestion

    You can go to Christmas and New Year's parties without having indigestion the next day. It takes a little bit of mindful eating, that's all.

  • Strictly limit creamy, cheesy dips and sauces and rich desserts
  • Eat slowly
  • Eat just enough to satisfy you
  • Drink alcohol and coffee in moderation
  • Don't exercise soon after eating
  • Don't lie down right after eating

    Persistent indigestion can be a sign of something more serious, so see a doctor if you also experience:

  • Vomiting
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Shortness of breath, sweating or pain that travels to the jaw, neck or arm
  • A feeling of stomach upset that isn't related to eating

    -- Avoid the tragedies alcohol can cause

    Traffic accidents and deaths rise dramatically during the holidays. If you're driving, avoid alcohol. It's that simple. Why risk anything?

    Many times, people have a few drinks and think they're fine to drive. They get in the car, and before they know what's happening, tires are skidding, cars are flying off the road and live are changed forever.

    If you're hosting a party, keep these things in mind:

  • Avoid mixing alcohol with carbonated drinks. Use fruit drinks instead. Carbonation speeds up the effects of alcohol.
  • Be sure to serve plenty of snacks.
  • Talk openly about designated drivers. Encourage your guests in advance to choose one person per car as a non-alcohol drinker that evening.
  • Serve plenty of alcohol free drinks.
  • Stop serving alcohol at least one hour before the party ends.

    -- Keep exercising

    Exercising every day helps your mental outlook. That's important to remember during stressful times, when you think you're too busy. One theory is that endorphins, a chemical the pituitary gland produces during exercise, can improve mood. Another is that exercise may help anxiety because it uses up nervous energy.

    Besides all that, most people agree that even though they may not look forward to doing a workout, they almost always feel better when they do.

    -- Focus on what's important

    Staying true to your values and beliefs is a good way to get through anything stressful. The holiday season is joyful for many reasons, so focus on those. Everything else will fall by the wayside when you remember what and why you're celebrating.

    Mothers Against Drunk Driving; National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
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