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How to handle holiday stress with 6 Big Easy tips

How to handle holiday stress with 6 Big Easy tips

The holidays are a wonderful time of year in the Big Easy. However, with family members visiting, holiday parties, shopping for relatives, running around to special events, and trying to get everything done in time, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Don’t worry; you’re not alone. Nearly half of your fellow Americans are more likely to feel more stress—not less—during the holidays.

This time of year can be stressful because of all the extra burdens that pile up during the holiday season. You may not be able to stay completely stress-free, but here are six tips to help with holiday anxiety and stress.

1. Plan ahead

You know the feeling: a deadline is quickly approaching, and the work you’ve been putting off needs to get done as soon as possible. Avoid deadline stress by planning ahead. For example, if you’re making the holiday meals this year, create a menu and make groceries early, and don’t wait until the day before to buy or wrap gifts.

2. Stick to a budget

With the holidays come extra expenses. To avoid spending too much money, budget your gift list for your friends and family and stick to it. Buying a lavish gift isn’t more important than paying your bills and isn’t worth the extra stress. You can even come up with creative ways to give gifts, such as making them at home or creating a gift exchange with ya mama’n’em, so you only have to buy one gift.

3. Keep up heart healthy habits

Just because there are plenty of sweets around doesn’t mean you have to gorge yourself on cookies and chocolates. Sure, have one or two if you want, but for the most part try to stick with a heart healthy diet.

Make sure your plates also include:

  • Plenty of vegetables and fruit (Satsuma, anyone?)
  • Lean proteins, like some delicious holiday turkey
  • Whole grains, such as your Nanan’s wild rice dressing
  • Low-fat or no-fat dairy (grocery stores have low-fat eggnog these days)

It may not be realistic to avoid those processed foods and added sugars completely, but try your best to limit the amount you eat.

Don’t skimp on the gym, either. Exercise is a big stress reliever, according to the American Heart Association. Get in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week, 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity per week or a combination of the two. Aerobic activity is anything that gets your heart rate up, such as walking, cycling or dancing. Try to fit in at least two days of strength training, such as lifting weights or bodyweight workouts.

4. Say no

Don’t be a holiday hero. Some things you just can’t realistically do. If your to-do list is too full, delegate tasks to your family—remember, people want to help! Also, you don’t have to attend every single event. If your schedule is full or you simply don’t feel like going, it’s okay to politely decline. You’ll see them at Mardi Gras! Create boundaries and stick to them.

5. Take a break

When you start to feel stress coming on (notice we said when not if because some stress is inevitable in life), take a break with stress-relieving activities. Go for a walk, take some deep breaths or just step away from all the holiday hustle and bustle for a little quality you time.

6. Reach out

If holiday stress becomes too much, it’s okay to reach out for help. Talk with a friend or family member, or make an appointment with a mental health provider.

When the holidays aren’t easy, LCMC Health can help. Find a mental health provider near you.