Enjoy a stress-free holiday with tips from a top psychiatrist

BOUTTE – You can avoid stress and sail through your holidays as a relaxed and happy camper with a psychiatrist’s “survival tips” for Herald-Guide readers who fuss and fret too much during the Christmas season. “Christmas may be the season of love and caring but sometimes the festivities can become overwhelming,” Dr. Alan Manevitz told the Herald-Guide in an interview from his office at New York-Presbyterian Hospital’s Weill-Cornell Medical Center.

“Crowded malls, frantic shopping sprees, holiday meal planning, job pressures stemming from short work weeks, excessive partying and even relatives all can contribute to a stressful season.

“Stress isn’t just a feeling of being frazzled,” continues our expert. “Stress can send you into depression or even make you sick.”

Here, for Herald-Guide readers, are Manvitz’s tips to help you keep your holidays under control. Be sure to show them to friends, loved ones and co-workers you care about so they’ll enjoy a healthy, happy and relaxing holiday season, too.

1. Don’t be a perfectionist about the holidays or think that you have to go to every party, every dinner, every mall, every church event or every school play. Make a list of all the things you CAN do and then check off those that you will truly enjoy. Scratch out the rest – and forget them.

2. When shopping for gifts, remember that it’s the thought that counts. Don’t let competitiveness and perfectionism send you on too many shopping trips or push you into buying things you can’t afford.

3. Simplify. Simplify. Simplify. Don’t bake 20 different types of cookies and treats unless you LOVE cooking that much. Ask yourself what’s more important – loading up the table with more than you can possibly eat or spending more time talking and having fun with your friends and family.

4. Speaking of family, remember: Expectations for reunions are often unrealistically rosy, resulting in disappointment and frustration. This year, relax with your relatives. Don’t fantasize over how wonderful things will be. Enjoy your family without making demands or expecting them to be perfect.

5. Plan your trips so that you take care of several errands in each trek. Going to the mall? Pick up your dry cleaning and that extra can of “emergency gravy” you’ve been thinking about. You’ll have more time to spend doing the things that you really want to do.

6. Take some time to think about what the holiday really means to you and your family. Time together, religious observance, reflection on your life and future goals will help you keep things in perspective.


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