Thursday, November 5, 2009


By Nan Jensen, Families & Consumers Agent, Pinellas County Extension

Holidays can be stressful even under the best of circumstances. But because of the economy and the high rate of unemployment, holidays this year may be particularly trying. Loss can trigger depression during the holidays.

Here are some strategies to help you deal with the stress during this holiday season.

Focus on what you have rather than what you don’t have.

~ Enjoy the little traditions that evoke positive memories for the holidays: songs, events, rituals, and more.

~ Come up with new holiday traditions – ones that don’t involve much money and that focus on family togetherness. Set aside time to create as a family new and inexpensive holiday decorations and gifts. Enjoy activities such as visiting displays, attending parades, viewing holiday lights or volunteering.

~ Spend your time with people you love and care about.
Take care of yourself-both physically and emotionally.
Your mental health is affected by your physical health, especially at holiday time.
~ Take care of yourself by getting enough sleep and making healthy food choices.

~ If you drink alcohol, limit your daily consumption. The Dietary Guidelines recommend no more than one drink for women and two drinks for men. This will not only save you calories but can help you “manage your mood” as well. Too much alcohol can trigger depression.

~ Exercise is important, too. Walking reduces stress and helps ward off weight gain.

~ Practice relaxation exercises (i.e., stretching, deep breathing, yoga, meditation).
Manage Your Time
~ Schedule your activities in advance. Break projects into small steps so you won't feel overwhelmed.

~ Involve family members in getting the holiday chores done.

~ Don't accept every invitation. Chose the events you want to attend.

~ Don't over-schedule. Leave some time unplanned for you and your family to relax and just be at home with each other.
Watch what you spend.
Overdoing it with credit cards and spending causes stress at the holidays. Try to keep spending under control.
~ Set spending limits for gifts for each person as well as for other items on your holiday list. Then search out the sales and specials to take advantage of the best buys.

~ Pay with cash and leave the credit cards at home. If you plan to use a credit card, select just one to use for your holiday spending. It’s much easier to control your spending on one card than using several cards.

~ If your children ask for something nonessential such as a video game system that does not fit into your budget, be honest with them and tell them you can’t afford it this year.
To help you control your holiday spending, join us on November 18 for a Solutions in 30 webinar entitled “Protect Your Credit during the Holiday Season”.


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Company and product listings do not represent endorsement by either: Pinellas County Extension, Pinellas County or the University of Florida / Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.