Dec 17, 2014 9:00 AM

Author: Office of Public Affairs

The holidays are supposed to be joyful, but finding the perfect gift, hosting a memorable party and overspending can make it more stressful than merry. “First, set realistic goals and expectations,” says Jason Hunziker, MD, division chief of adult psychiatry at University of Utah Health. “You don’t have to attend every party or spend more than you can afford to make the holidays memorable.” Here are the top four holiday stressors and simplified solutions. 

stress stress management

Beat Holiday Stress

Stressor #1: Finding the perfect gift

Instead of scouring the malls for hours, simply ask people what they want. Try to buy early to avoid the last-minute rush. For the person who has everything, “give the gift of time,” Hunziker suggests. “For example, watch your friend’s kids while they enjoy a night out.”

Stressor #2: Hosting the perfect party

A party doesn’t have to be pin-worthy to be memorable, so cut yourself a break. Focus on quality time with good friends and family. Buy prepared foods instead of making everything from scratch, and ask guests to bring their favorite side to share.

Stressor #3: Overspending

In 2013, nearly 40% of Americans felt pressured to spend more during the holidays than they could afford. Rather than racking up debt, plan ahead and stick to your budget. Save money by making gifts. Or start a gift exchange, so you buy one gift instead of several.

Stressor #4: Packing on the holiday pounds

When you’re busy getting ready for the holidays, it’s easy to abandon your health goals. But that turns into stressful weight gain. Incorporate exercise into your day, even for 15 minutes at a time. It’s a healthy way to relieve stress.

“It’s a busy time of year, but remember to always save time for yourself,” Hunziker says. “Relax and unwind by doing the things that you really love. It will help manage your holiday stress.”

Help for Holiday Depression

If your stress turns into depression, seek help from your primary care doctor, a psychiatrist or a therapist. If the situation reaches the point of a crisis, please call the University Neuropsychiatric Institute CrisisLine at 801-587-3000.

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