Friday, October 24, 2014 · 2:03 p.m.

Parkridge offers tips on managing holiday-related stress

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Although the holidays are intended to be a happy time full of joyful celebration, the events can trigger sadness and anxiety for many.

Farlie Chastain, LCSW at Parkridge Valley, offers some tips on how to not stress during the holiday season and make the holiday season more enjoyable. 

“There are many reasons that people can be stressed during the holidays,” Chastain said in a prepared statement. “Many individuals focus intensely on creating a 'perfect' holiday celebration for their loved ones and put so much pressure on themselves that they can no longer enjoy many of the festivities they have planned. For others, trying to add holiday activities into already-packed schedules can be extremely stressful."

Other problems, said Chastain, are overeating, overspending, drinking too much or being unable to spend time with all of the family and friends that you need to see. 

Chastain said that December can be more enjoyable if you:

—Be realistic: Make sure you are setting reasonable goals for yourself, and don’t take on too much. "Don’t be afraid to say no; it’s better than over-committing and feeling overwhelmed later as a result," Chastain said.

—Budget: Create a budget for gifts and other holiday expenses, and stick to it as much as possible.

—Don’t wait for the New Year: Start and maintain healthy habits now. "Exercise and adequate rest will improve the holiday experience,” Chastain said.

—Schedule downtime: Take some time for yourself when needed, and recruit family or friends to assist with the planning and execution of holiday festivities.

—Be flexible with traditions if necessary: “Don’t be afraid to adapt the traditional holiday events and celebrations; make something new that works for you," Chastain said.

—Get involved: Volunteer or participate in a community event or religious organization if you feel lonely or isolated. "Helping others can go a long way toward taking your mind off your own troubles," she said

—Cry if you want to: ”Give yourself permission to feel sadness and grief; these are normal emotions that don’t go away just because of the holiday season," Chastain said.

—Seek help if you need it: "If you have persistent anxiety, irritability, trouble sleeping or if you have low moods that last for several days, seek professional help," Chastain said. 

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