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Wednesday 21 December 2011

7 ways to reduce holiday stress

Gift-wrapping, decorating the house, and socializing can be fun but can also make you feel as if you haven't had much of a holiday. It's so easy for the holidays to become all about running around like the proverbial chicken. But it's important to take care of yourself so that you get what you want and need at holiday time.

 Here's how to take good care of yourself during the festive season:

 • Create "alone time" Schedule time to do nothing. "Alone time" can mean going for a walk or curling up on the couch, reading a good novel. After a busy fall season and the frenetic holidays, it's really important to de-stress before going back to your daily life in January. Try to take more than just a few days off work. Many people take a week or two, and it's a great idea if you can swing it. It's difficult to go back to work after a whirlwind few days that are filled with parties, dinners and family get-togethers.
 • Say no and set boundaries Take care of yourself within holiday social expectations. If there are time conflicts, pick the social invitation that you will enjoy most. Think about what best meets your needs, and the needs of your partner or children. Then put a plan in place.
 • Don't overbook Really think about how many social obligations you want to book into your schedule. Everything might seem like fun now, but before you know it, you'll be scheduled to attend three parties in one evening and stress will set in.
 • Don't overspend Set a budget and stick with it. You may feel good making others happy now, but you'll panic when you get your credit card bill in the mail in January. Take good care of yourself, financially, by setting budget limits.
 • Pamper yourself Let loose and enjoy the season, but don't abuse your body. You won't feel very good if you go over the top with food or alcohol. Treat your body with love and respect even during the excesses of the holidays.
 • Make couple time If you have a partner, find time to relax and be together, just the two of you. Time with family and friends is important and fun, but the holidays are a terrific opportunity to spend romantic time together.
 • Take a great escape Go away somewhere for a week or even just for a few days. It can be rejuvenating to get away with a friend or your partner for a holiday getaway.

 Carole-Anne Vatcher, MSW, RSW is a Toronto-based individual and couple therapist in private practice. She has been interviewed for Homemakers, Reader's Digest and Canadian Living. She has made guest appearances on Canada AM, The Erin Davis Show, W Live and CityTV's TalkTV. Carole-Anne helps men and women improve their relationships and make positive changes in their lives.

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