2005-12-21 / LifeStyles

Holiday season is a time for stress

CLEMSON – The holidays are here, and images of peace, love and harmony are everywhere. It’s a time for great joy, good feelings and family togetherness, right? It also can be a season of stress.

Each year, millions of people suffer from increased stress and tension during the holidays. However, much of this stress is avoidable, says Clemson University sociology department chair and professor Kinly Sturkie.

“Have reasonable expectations for what the holiday season should be like,” Sturkie said. “Consider how you want to remember the holiday season, and take the necessary steps to achieve that goal. But, stay calm if everything does not go as planned.”

The professor advises stress-prone people to protect themselves and others from the anxiety and the hype that can come from the media and retail industry. “Try not to shop in anxiety-charged environments,” he said.

One way to do that is to shop in small retail stores. They may charge higher prices for gift items in comparison to larger chain stores, but the added cost may be worth avoiding the stress of the crowds and traffic.

Another way to have a more stress-free seasonal celebration is to not over-commit yourself, Sturkie said. Scheduling too many parties, extra activities and family obligations can put a strain not just on you, but on your family as well.

Setting personal limits on expenditures, food and drink consumption and your time commitments is important.

“What you want to do all along is protect yourself from the post-holiday bills and sugar crash,” Sturkie said.

The sociologist also suggests having “planned and constrained interactions” with family members or people who predictably behave badly or take advantage of you.

“Avoid being around people who make you feel bad about them or yourself,” Sturkie said. “That’s easy to do with people who aren’t family members, but the holidays sometimes force us to be with people who create a lot of negative feelings.”

Expressing your spirituality during the holiday season and establishing healthy family traditions and rituals are also key factors in making your holidays joyous and more pleasant, said Sturkie.

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