Tidings of comfort and joy could also bring stress over the holidays

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - A survey by the American Psychological Association showed money and family responsibilities are two significant sources of anxiety for Americans.  The busyness of the holiday season often increases stress for many people.

Blytheville native Floyd Ollison said he does not stress during the holiday season."I just take one day at a time, and if I have something to do and I'm able to do it, I'll do it."


Psychiatrist and BlueCross BlueShield of Arkansas medical director Bert Price recommends maintaining realistic expectations to survive the holiday season. "We expect the holidays to be a perfect period and sometimes put a lot of energy into trying to make it perfect," he said. "Sometimes it's not going to be perfect there are going to be some bumps in the road."


Price said part of battling stress is knowing when not to fight. "One good saying is there's never a bad time to be gracious. So, if you're in a family and you've had some conflicts, you don't want to try to raise them up with everybody present."


He also said people need to recognize their limits. "Say, ‘Yes,' to saying, ‘No.' sometimes it's better just to take care of yourself and not over commit."


McCollum and Ollison said they keep the holiday stress contained by planning ahead. "Around Thanksgiving you start thinking about Christmas and what you're going to do."


"What am I doing with my wife this Christmas? Let her have what she wants, go play the lottery and if I hit it, I'I'm going to set the town up."


Arkansas Psychological Association Strategies to Curb Stress During Holidays


· Set realistic expectations. No holiday celebration is perfect; view inevitable missteps as opportunities to demonstrate flexibility and resilience. Create a realistic budget and remind your children that the holidays aren't about expensive gifts. 


· Take time for yourself. Taking care of yourself helps you to take better care of others in your life. Go for a long walk, read something that interests you or listen to your favorite music. By slowing down you may find more energy to accomplish your holiday goals.


· Volunteer. Many charitable organizations face new challenges as a result of the ongoing economic downturn. Find a local charity, such as a soup kitchen or a shelter, where you and your family can volunteer together throughout the year. Helping others can put hardships in perspective and build stronger family relationships.


· Remember what's important. Commercialism can overshadow the true sentiment of the holiday season. When your holiday expense list is running longer than your monthly budget, scale back. Remind yourself that family, friends and the relationships in your life are what matter most.


· Seek support. Talk about stress related to the holidays with your friends and family. Getting things out in the open can help you navigate your feelings and work toward a solution. If you continue to feel overwhelmed, consider talking with a professional such as a psychologist to help you develop coping strategies and better manage your stress. A psychologist has the skills and professional training to help people learn to manage stress and cope more effectively with life's problems.


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