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Don't Let Triggers Stress Out Your Holiday

We often see a spike in stress around holidays. It's a busy season, to-do lists are long and no one has time for sickness or injury.

One of the best ways to help manage stress during the holiday season is to identify your triggers. Triggers may come in different forms: stressful people in your life, over-indulging on food or alcohol, over-spending/the need to get the perfect gift, over-committing/the need to say yes to all requests, etc.

It's important to do a self-assessment to see what triggers you. Once you identify your triggers, you can be more mindful and set a plan in place.

- If people or a particular person is a trigger: Avoid them if you can. If you can't, commit to boundaries in that relationship and stick to them. Remember that you are in control of your actions, responses and feelings. Eleanor Roosevelt once said, "No one can make you feel inferior without your permission." Make a decision to not allow that stressful person in your life to dictate your emotions. And then continually remind yourself about that decision because rarely do you say it to yourself one time and it's done. Instead, it may be a daily or even hourly reminder. Eventually, it gets easier and you will see a change- so stick with it!

- If food or alcohol is a trigger: Be mindful about portion sizes. It's easy to socially eat and eat and eat at parties. Grab a plate and try 4 or 5 bites and then steer yourself away from the food table to avoid mindless eating. Tip: load up on carrots or other raw veggies with a small amount of dip. This keeps you "food" busy and helps curb multiple trips to the appetizer table. Or if it's a big family-style meal, try all the delicious items but take half a scoop of each item. For drinks, perhaps share your drink with your date or opt for water to help flush out the extra food intake.

- If you tend to over-spend during the holidays you must use a budget and you must start early. The easiest way to over-spend is when you need a gift in a rush. So, determine who is on your gift list. Then add 2 more misc gifts for those last-minute parties or needed gifts. Then work backwards- how much do you want to spend this holiday season? What can you afford by NOT using credit cards? From that total, make a realistic budget - family members $30 each, friends $20 each, etc. Then STICK TO IT! It's helpful to remember that there will always be a "better" gift that cost more- always. So stop striving for perfection in gift-giving- simple is better. Keep it simple.

- If over-committing is a trigger: learn to give your best yes. If you feel guilty by saying No when others ask for your time or efforts, remember that when you say yes to one thing, you always say no to something else. Often that is no to self care, no to being present with your family, no to keeping stress low. If you struggle with this, here is a great book called "The Best Yes," by Lysa TerKeurst. Check it out and learn by saying no to over-committing, you are saying Yes in other big ways that will leave you feeling your best!

You can do these hard things. Make a plan, start early, self-assess and stick with it!

Wishing you a wonderful holiday season this year!

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