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Read the Magellan EAP December newsletter

12.08.2016 | By:

Beating stress this holiday season

At this time of year, people often find themselves trying to keep up with shopping, decorating, cooking, kids’ school events, work functions and other celebratory gatherings. With so much going on, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Here are ideas for cutting holiday stress.

  • Don’t seek perfection. People often maintain an idealized image of how the holidays should be. However, everything about your holiday season doesn’t have to be perfect or just like last year.
  • Be realistic about what you can do prior to and during the holidays. Trim some tasks or social functions so that you have more time to enjoy the season and the people you value most.
  • Get help. Share your challenges with those around you. Delegate some tasks to family, friends or co-workers, as appropriate.
  • Get rest. Don’t let your schedule get so off kilter that you neglect to get an adequate amount of sleep.

Cope with holiday blues

Strive to get more sunlight during the day and/or use a phototherapy (light) If you suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Seek more social contact during this time of year. Counseling, medications and support groups also make a positive difference.

Isolation can be a problem for people suffering with depression. If you don’t have plans with others, find public celebrations or volunteer opportunities where you can serve those less fortunate.

Access MoodCalmer—a self-guided, confidential online program that helps you understand the symptoms of depression, challenge negative thoughts, feel better, and manage relapses. Sign in at to learn more.

Relaxing during a busy holiday time

If stress has plagued you during past holidays, develop a strategy for keeping yourself balanced and healthy this year. Here are ideas for incorporating relaxation into your holidays.

  • Take time between holiday tasks to rest, recharge and clear your mind. Put this time on your calendar if need be. See a movie, read a book, or just set aside some quiet meditative time to fully slow down.
  • Take a long walk or nature hike (particularly after holiday meals) in the brisk air. Step outside at night for a few minutes of stargazing.
  • Say “no” sometimes; it’s okay! Family, friends and colleagues will understand if you can't participate in every activity.
  • Return to a creative activity that you haven’t had much time for during the year.
  • Schedule a spa treatment with massage. Go for an acupuncture or reiki session. Or, take a long, candle-lit soak in the tub with bath fragrances.
  • Adopt a relaxation technique such as deep breathing, meditation, progressive muscle relaxation or yoga. Exercise and eat smart

Track your eating and fitness

Amidst the holiday treats, strive to track your food intake and activity levels. You’ll be more aware of accumulating calories. After a holiday meal, don’t slouch into the couch; take a walk or do a workout. If you’re tech-oriented, download a new fitness app to track your activity over the holidays.

Take your time

Make a conscious effort to pace yourself when eating and enjoying the many holiday flavors. Chewing your food more slowly allows the "hungry-full" response from your brain to tell you that you’re sated—which takes approximately 20 minutes. If you eat too quickly, you’ll likely eat too much.

Beware the beverages

Avoid drinking alcohol prior to the big meal. This can lower your controls, leading to overeating and drinking. Also, even though your favorite holiday adult beverage doesn’t have a nutrition label, it’s probably quite calorie-laden. Limit yourself to one or two drinks, and alternate with drinks of water to stay balanced.

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