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20 holiday stressbusters.

20 Holiday Stressbusters

For most of us the term "holiday season" brings to mind visions of brightly colored packages, homebaked goodies, family get-togethers, festive decorations and holiday parties. But each of these demands your time and energy, and often can leave you physically and mentally exhausted. Whether you have arthritis or not, the holidays can cause tremendous stress.

But don't start saying "bah, humbug" just yet. By planning ahead, you can avoid a lot of the seasonal stress. Consider some of the following stress-reducers to keep yourself healthy and happy during the holidays:


* Avoid the hassle of going to the stores and fighting the crowds by shopping early through mail-order catalogs or taking advantage of shopping services that do your shopping for you.

* Relieve yourself of the worry of finding the "perfect gifts" for those hard-to-buy-for people by giving "service gifts," such as onetime maid service or a catered dinner. Gift certificates, magazine subscriptions or tickets to a ballgame or concert all make wonderful gift ideas as well.

* Avoid the stress of last-minute frantic shopping by setting deadlines for yourself and meeting them. For example, try to have all your shopping done by Thanksgiving so you have the whole month of December to enjoy the holidays.

* Make comprehensive lists before you hit the stores and rely heavily on them. Keep a running list year-round of friends and relatives with their sizes and preferences. Buy items as you find them throughout the year and your shopping will be finished before the holidays roll around; you may find that this can save you some money as well. Also, avoid wasting your time and making unnecessary trips by calling stores ahead of time to be sure they have the items you want in stock.

* Avoid the stress that inflated post-holiday bills can cause by sticking to your shopping lists. Don't fall prey to tempting "unbelievable" sales on items you don't need or items that are not on your list. All those sales can be pretty costly when the bills come in!

* Be prepared for visitors bearing unexpected gifts by purchasing several "generic gifts" to have wrapped and on hand in case you need extras or discover that you have forgotten someone.

* Budget your time wisely. Try to avoid peak shopping times and sale days. Plan your shopping trips for early morning hours and arrive as soon as the stores open, or consider taking time off to do your shopping during the week, when stores are less crowded. Don't overdo on good days or you'll just pay for it later. Outline your plan of action before you leave - try to do all your shopping for one day in stores that are in the same area.


* If you're hosting the family dinner, order turkey and dressing (or whatever you're serving) already prepared, so you don't have to do everything yourself. Many supermarkets and cafeterias offer this service at an affordable price. Or consider having the meal catered. Another idea is to plan an informal buffet or a potluck dinner at which you provide the meat or main dish and other guests or family members bring the rest of the meal. By dividing the workload, everyone can relax and enjoy the get-together -- even you!

* Don't feel you have to use your best china, crystal and fine linens. Remember that most people are more comfortable and relaxed in an informal setting. A broken dish or a stained linen can be quite stressful for both you and your guest. Instead use holiday paper plates and trays available in many stores during this season of entertaining. They're festive and disposable too!

* Set aside one day to get all of your baking done. By doing your cooking ahead of time and then freezing items, all you have to do is pull the items out and they're ready to heat and serve without the preparation and mess.


* Use festive pre-made bags and boxes for gift-wrapping. They're easy to assemble and often don't require any ribbon or added decoration. (See "Quicker, Simpler Gift Wraps" on page 20 for more tips and ideas.)


* Consider using a small artificial tree that you can store with the decorations intact and simply pull out and plug in each year. This eliminates a lot of the unpacking, unwrapping and decorating that can be painful and tiring for those with arthritis. If the holidays are not the same for you without a traditional, live tree, host a tree-trimming party. Invite several friends over to help decorate your tree. Serve light snacks and turn on the Christmas carols. Before you know it, the Christmas spirit prevails and your tree is decorated.

Social Calendar

* The holidays are typically filled with family get-togethers, office parties, open houses and other social gatherings. Prioritize and don't overload your schedule. Remember you don't have to attend every event you are invited to. Decide which activities are most important, and kindly decline the others. Be sure to build at least one night of rest into your schedule each week.

* Avoid pre-party panic by arranging special outfits ahead of time. Have clothes cleaned, pressed and ready to wear long before you need them and hang everything together so you can dress without frantically looking for a pair of pantyhose without a run or a tie that matches your suit.

Help Yourself

* Make your own wish list of things that you need help with. Tell friends and family members you would like their help with a specific task instead of a material gift. Ask for and accept help. Most of us find this hard to do.

* Don't let a busy schedule prevent you from exercising or keeping up your normal routine. Regular exercise helps you vent your frustrations and also keeps you from becoming run-down.

* If you are by yourself during the holidays, consider "adopting" needy children or an elderly person who is also alone for the holiday season. Don't mope around feeling sorry for yourself; if you have the resources, share them with someone else and provide company for each other.

* Pamper yourself. Buy yourself something you want - you deserve it!

New Year's Strategies

* Plan a get-together or event for mid-January so you have something to look forward to when things slow down after the holidays and you have a tendency to feel depressed.

* Resolve now to start planning ahead for next year to avoid the stress you encountered this holiday season.

While planning ahead for the holidays helps reduce stress, no matter how prepared you are, there will be some problems and possibly some disasters! Don't expect the holidays to be perfect. You'll only be setting yourself up for disappointment if you do. Take the season in stride so that when the new year rolls in, you'll find yourself looking forward to next season, not dreading it!
COPYRIGHT 1989 Arthritis Foundation, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Ballew, Tracy
Publication:Arthritis Today
Date:Nov 1, 1989
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