The University of Alabama

UA Matters: Dealing with Stress During the Holidays

Dr. Harriet Myers

Dr. Harriet Myers

The holidays can be a busy, and stressful, time of year. Whether it’s coping with house guests, trying to finish holiday shopping or planning a large holiday meal, everyone should take some time to decompress. The University of Alabama’s Dr. Harriet Myers offers a few suggestions on how to do just that.

  • The busier we get with holiday preparation, the more we need the daily 10 to 20 minutes of silence — being present with just  our breathing.  Notice how your priorities change after this interlude.
  • At this time of intense marketing of commercial items, build in a  frequent reminder to self that “less stuff is best.”
  • Set a low dollar limit on family gift exchanges — amusement and wonder at the creativity and choices will be bonding.
  • Refrain from frantic re-creation of the homemade pastries, intricate decorations, etc. from childhood. It is the positive emotions from interactions that drive our fond memories.  So, bringing family, neighbors, friends (invite someone you’ve been meaning to know better) together with simple, “store-bought” treats will work nicely — or, invite them for a cookie/goodie- or ornament-making party early in the month.
  • Often modest donations to a favorite charity in honor of those on your gift list will be especially heart-warming for those individuals.

Myers is an associate professor with joint appoints in the departments of family medicine and psychiatry and behavioral medicine in UA’s College of Community Health Sciences.

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UA Matters is a weekly posting that offers information and tips on consumer issues facing Alabamians. The information is available to reprint in your publication free of charge. Also, access to subject matter experts is available upon request. For more information, contact Kim Eaton at 205/348-8325 or kkeaton@ur.ua.edu>.

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