Keep the holiday stress at bay

This column appears in the Nevada Appeal Wednesday health pages. It addresses topics related to the health of our community.

Christmas is tomorrow, and Carson City Health and Human Services wants to wish you and yours a merry holiday.

Are you feeling overloaded or overwhelmed? Do you feel like you fall behind and have trouble keeping up? Do you worry about things often? If you answered yes to any of these, you may have too much stress.

The holidays are supposed to be merry and bright, but many people find themselves overwhelmed at this time of year, and are too busy to simply enjoy the time they have to spend with friends and loved ones. While a little bit of stress can be good and act as a motivator for some people, too much stress can be unhealthy and can lead to a range of health issues, including high blood pressure, heart disease, and sleep and digestive problems, not to mention spoiling your holiday spirit.

There are many ways to help reduce stress. First, don’t think you have to tackle everything all at once. Sometimes setting small goals and ticking them off one at a time can help you feel as though you are getting things accomplished, and can alleviate some of your worry about not completing tasks. Make a to-do list of the things that you feel are important. Then, as the shopping, gift wrapping, socializing, and baking are completed, you can have a sense of accomplishment as you check them off. Be sure to include time for yourself on your to-do list as well.

It’s okay to say “no” to taking on too much. If you feel like you don’t have the time, energy or resources to devote to another party or holiday concert, simply refuse. Don’t commit to making a dozen cookies for your child’s class party or shopping for secret Santa gifts for your entire office if you don’t feel like you have the time to do so. Remember, everyone will have a more pleasant experience this holiday if you’re relaxed, happy, and enjoying the event. If you do happen to take on more than you can handle, remember it’s OK to ask for help or delegate tasks to others. Often, people are willing to contribute and are just waiting for you to ask.

If you are already feeling stressed, there are things you can do to help yourself relax. Find a way to set aside a few minutes to breathe deeply and affirm you’re doing all you can.

Also, take time away from your stressors to do something you enjoy. Some ideas for healthy stress relief activities include going for a walk, spending time with friends, or reading a book you enjoy. Remember participating in even moderate physical activity can be a strong mood lifter. This is because your brain releases chemicals called endorphins when you exercise, which can help you feel good.

The holiday season doesn’t have to be stressful. Remember to take time to relax and enjoy all the joy this season has to offer.

If you do start to feel overwhelmed, take a deep breath and relax. Soon, the new year will be here.

For more information about Health Department services, check out our website at, or visit us at


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