Managing holiday stress

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- It's the season of giving. It's the season of spending time with loved ones. It’s also the season of stress! But don't let the thought of seeing family or hanging up those decorations get you down. You can handle it and Hello Wisconsin has the answer.


Andrea Hess Employee Assistance Program Counselor with HSHS St. Joseph's Hospital joined the show to explain.

You are going to your parents Christmas gathering and one of them inevitably brings up politics or the fact that you aren't married, etc. whatever the case may be. What can you do to avoid the fight or flight response?

She says, “We want to acknowledge that we are indeed feeling uncomfortable. Take a deep cleansing breathe, and try to tap into our positive memory networks in our brain. Counting numbers can help too! These are pleasurable experiences, or a place where you felt calm and relaxed in the recent past. EXAMPLE - the beach or a yoga class. This helps to change our emotional state from the negative to the positive. It gives our brain a "Time out" instead of engaging the automatic response. The goal is to stay balanced and in the present moment.”

We always hear that stress is bad - It shows up like headaches, backaches, stomach issues. This is true, but we want to acknowledge the stress in our lives before it gets to this level.

We need to know how much is too muc ! We need to reconnect to the meaning behind the stress. Are we allowing stress to happen in order to be able to put an incredible memory into our family's life? Are we allowing stress to happen in order to make someone's day a little brighter??? In certain amounts, stress can be good. It helps us to get things done - we can be more productive too.

We need to keep our mind on the meaning of why we are doing what we are doing - this helps us to work through the stress in a positive way. Stress can enhance our lives!

85% of what we stress about daily - never actually happens.

Hess adds, “We tend to overestimate our commitments, and underestimate the time we have for ourselves. There was a study done by highly successful people, and how they manage their time. What was discovered is that many of them realize that time is a choice. They don't engage in X, Y or Z activity because X, Y or Z is not a priority. Time is highly elastic, and time will stretch to accommodate whatever we put into it. Therefore we have to know what our priorities are, and engage in those activities that are centered around those priorities.

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