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Don't Be a Fruit Cake 

Tips for a Stress-free Holiday Season 

Here’s an early present for you: Your holidays don’t have to be perfect! Most people who stress out during the holidays try to do too much instead of relaxing and enjoying the spirit of the season. This year, add one or two nice touches to your holiday plans if you wish, but don’t let it take you away from what’s really important—time with your family and friends.

Too much stress can weaken your immune system and aggravate health problems that you already have, according to Jane Sadler, M.D., a family medicine physician on the medical staff at Baylor Medical Center at Garland. This can result in increased colds or infections, loss of sleep or anxiety. Dr. Sadler offers some tips to help you get through the season without stressing out: 

Organization

  • Don’t wait until the last minute to shop.
  • Shop during less busy times, when crowds are smaller.
  • Take advantage of free gift-wrapping services in stores. 

Finances

  • Set a holiday spending budget and stick to it.
  • Give fewer gifts or draw names.
  • Make (or bake) gifts, keeping them simple.

Your health

  • Stick to your exercise program.
  • Eat smaller portions.
  • Go easy on alcohol, caffeine and fat-laden hors d’oeuvres.
  • Don’t drink and drive.

Family gatherings/entertaining

  • Put aside family squabbles during the holidays.
  • Keep the guest list small and the atmosphere casual and relaxed.
  • Have a different family member host the party each year so no one feels “burdened.”

Personal stress

  • Approach the holidays with a positive attitude.
  • Don’t worry about things you cannot control.
  • Set realistic expectations. (Don’t expect the “perfect” holiday gatherings portrayed in many movies and television shows.)
  • Problem solve with other people.
  • Avoid symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) by getting daily doses of bright light and visiting with friends.