THURSDAY, Nov. 22 (HealthDay News) -- From crowded shopping
malls to unpaid bills to an onslaught of out-of-town guests, the
holidays can cause overwhelming stress. One way to remain calm is
to manage unrealistic expectations, experts advise.
"Overly high expectations for the holidays -- be it around the food, the gifts or the family relationships -- can trigger anxiety and even depression," said Dr. Mallay Occhiogrosso, a psychiatrist at the Payne Whitney Clinic at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City, in a medical center news release. "Prioritizing self-care is important, as well as dialing down those unrealistic 'Hallmark holiday' fantasies."
Another expert agrees: "During the holidays, our lives become
even more stressful as we try to juggle our usual responsibilities
with extra holiday preparation and complicated family dynamics,"
said Dr. Maria Oquendo, a psychiatrist at NewYork-Presbyterian
Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center.
The experts noted there are several other ways to avoid stress
during the holidays, including:
- Find support.People facing difficult family situations
should set aside time to spend with their friends. Those who feel
isolated or alone should take advantage of resources in their
community or volunteer their time at a local charity.
- Get some alone time.Even a 15-minute break can help you
relax and relieve stress. Taking a brisk walk or getting some
exercise can significantly improve your mood.
- Set limits.You can't do everything, so do only what you
enjoy. Allow friends and family members to share their ideas about
what they would like to do during the holidays.
- Reduce shopping stress.Set a budget and do not spend more
than you intend. Don't let guilt, competitiveness or perfectionism
send you on more shopping excursions than you would like.
- Enlist help.Let your friends and family contribute to the
- Be realistic.Don't set your holiday expectations too high.
Allow your loved ones to be themselves and set any conflicts aside
for another time.
- Reflect on the past.Honor and remember loved ones who have
- Be organized.Plan meals, shopping lists and other activities
in advance so you have more time to enjoy the holidays.
- Remember what's important.Spend some time focusing on
family, religious beliefs or traditions.
Anyone who still feels depressed during the holidays should
consider talking to a mental-health professional, the experts
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides