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Dont too yourself out of a happy holiday season
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(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is one in a series of articles about handling holiday stress.)

It sometimes seems as if the holidays are a “no win” scenario.
There’s too much to do.
There’s not enough to do.
There are too many family members on hand, or there’s no one to spend time with.
About the only thing there is not too much of — especially with this year’s economy — is money. But there are plenty of bills on hand for the money to match, and that gets “too-too” much, too.
According to holiday hints from relationship experts, it’s the middle ground of most holiday experiences that provides peace, and we can’t be afraid of taking some time for ourselves.
That may include checking out the “reason for the season,” experts suggest.
One of the key elements in releasing stress during the holiday season can be to include feeding our spiritual nature, as well as food, fun and family.
Making time for attending church can provide us with a quieting influence and bring us back into line with why we are supposed to be celebrating in the first place.
There are also some very real physical issues involved in this season.
Experts warn that our culture “toos” itself into stress during this season.
Too much spending, too much eating, too much partying, and too much alcohol can all add to the stress of the season.
Taking a break from all of the above, including some “down time” when the diet, eardrums, and wallet can all get some rest will go a long way towards making this season much more enjoyable.
Of course that will only work if we are honest with ourselves and watch for the signs that stress is having an impact on us.
According to seasonal hints from the Mayo Clinic, it helps to recognize life isn’t like a Christmas movie.
“Relationships can cause turmoil, conflict or stress at any time, but tensions are often heightened during the holidays. Family misunderstandings and conflicts can intensify — especially if you’re thrust together for several days. On the other hand, facing the holidays without a loved one can be tough and leave you feeling lonely and sad.”
Getting rest sounds simple, but it’s good advice, according to the Mayo tips.
“Even die-hard holiday enthusiasts may find that the extra shopping and socializing can leave them wiped out. Being exhausted increases your stress, creating a vicious cycle. Exercise and sleep — good antidotes for stress and fatigue — may take a back seat to chores and errands. To top it off, burning the wick at both ends makes you more susceptible to colds and other unwelcome guests.”
“Don’t abandon healthy habits. Don’t let the holidays become a free-for-all. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt. Have a healthy snack before holiday parties so that you don’t go overboard on sweets, cheese or drinks. Continue to get plenty of sleep and physical activity.”
And leave some time for you this season.
“Take a breather. Make some time for yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. Take a walk at night and stargaze. Listen to soothing music. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing and restoring inner calm.”