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Reduce Holiday Stress

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How did holiday cheer morph into holiday stress?


We women are the traditional cookie bakers, present wrappers, card mailers, and holiday meal chefs. We need TIME to do all of the above plus do a job and manage a household. Consumerism takes time as well as money. The pace of family life has escalated. Economic woes or worries add to stress.


Holidays give us respite from everyday work. We have time to reflect on the meaning of the holy day and to share our blessings with loved ones. But stress and exhaustion can trump the positives. Many of us must struggle with the “holiday nasties” like families fighting a war over who owns the children and grandchildren on the big day.


Here’s my acronym to help you combat holiday stress: CHEERS!


C stands for CONNECTIONS. That’s what the holidays are all about and that’s all that really matters. The connections we make with family and friends are more important than the gift or the menu.


H is for HELP. Don’t even try to do it all! Involve spouse and children in home holiday tasks. Ask, pay, or barter with, someone to help you. Neighborhood preteens can make holiday money wrapping gifts for you. Do errands for a friend today in exchange for help tomorrow.


E stands for ELIMINATE. Look at that list of tasks very critically! Do I really have to bake cookies? Do I really have to buy and wrap a gift for every person on my list? No, you can follow my alternative path and make a donation to the Food Bank or other needy organization in the name of the person for whom you would otherwise have purchased a gift. No shopping! No wrapping! Write a note on a pretty card explaining that you made a donation in the recipient’s honor. Both donee and donor can share in the joy of helping others.


The second E is for the ENVIRONMENT. While you’re doing your holiday tasks, think of planet Earth. Does EVERY gift need to be wrapped? Are there innovative ways to use recyclable materials for wrapping?


R stands for REACH OUT. This is a great time of year to help children realize that they are part of a wider community. Invite lonely people to share your holiday. Get the children involved in bringing toys or food to the needy.


S is for SLOW DOWN. We often set an unmerciful pace for ourselves. Model a slower, more relaxed, holiday pace for your children. Find new traditions for your family that emphasize connections and minimize rushing around. Slow down the pace of gift-buying for the children. Less is more for today’s children as many of them already have toy overload.CHEERS and Happy Holidays to all!

Dr. Marilyn Heins is a pediatrician, educator, author, and Work Her Way Expert Contributor

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