Feeling like a Scrooge? How to manage stress

The holidays seem to be one of those times of the year that people either love or loathe.

I used to fall into the “loathe” category. I was the one complaining about Christmas music being played too early, all the people shopping, and lights being left up on porches and in windows far past New Year’s Day.

However, the last few years, the holiday season has become less of an irritant; I have come to enjoy the traditions my family has created, the darkness of the house softened by the white lights of the tree, and yes, even shopping for that perfect gift for those closest to me.

So how do you cope with the holidays when you’re feeling more Scrooge than Buddy the Elf? The holidays temporarily alter our surrounding environment. It truly is your adaptability and coping skills that determine how much stress your body will be put through. Using healthy coping skills rather than turning to less than stellar ones will make a world of difference in your stress levels and how they affect you.

Recognizing our personal barriers and reducing challenges gives us control over our environments, thus naturally reducing our stress. If you know the crowds and long lines are a source of stress for you, do your shopping online or wait for the “off” times to go shopping. Shop the ads and make a list so you can get in, get what you need, and get out.

Most of us stress about money, especially at this time of year. Sit down and figure out what you can comfortably spend on each person on your list. Don’t forget things like wrapping paper and tape. Also, do you need to replace lights, ornaments, stockings or baking supplies?

Another way to save money is to give your time rather than another thing. Make a gift certificate for a movie date with your niece, or ask relatives for their favorite recipes and create a family cookbook.

Be sure to surround yourself with positivity.

If you know that Uncle Joe gets on your nerves with political talk, have a plan on how you will handle that. Will you engage in conversation with him, or will you plan to spend more time listening to Grandma tell the tales of bridge club?

Embrace new ideas and traditions. Families are fluid. Marriages and blended families can bring changes to established traditions, but that’s part of the fun of being a family! Being open minded can bring a sense of relaxation that can be a fantastic stress reliever all on its own.

Finally, take care of your physical health.

Keep your nutrition on the front burner, and don’t beat yourself up too much if you slip and have an extra cookie. Exercise is so vital to our overall health. The endorphins released when exercising can be an amazing stress reliever, and a great way to relieve some tension!

Kerri Robertson is Assistant Supervisor of the Senior Activity Center of Sheboygan County