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Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany

Readiness Enabler for Operational Forces  •
Coping with holiday stress, loneliness ;

By Cpl. Nicholas Tremblay | | December 19, 2002

For many people Christmas brings a lot more than just presents. It can bring unwanted stress that could cause many health-related problems, such as panic and anxiety attacks, high blood pressure, heartburn and many other risks. But a variety of ways to cope with the added holiday stress is available.

Brenda Ray, Semper-Fit Health Promotion coordinator and Prevention and Education coordinator at the Personal Services Branch here, offers tips and advice to make this Christmas a little less stressful. Ray also instructed the stress management for the holidays class Wednesday.

Christmas is a time for giving.  For those who have a lot of family members, buying gifts can leave them with an empty wallet. But finding the perfect gift doesn't necessarily mean spending big bucks, said Ray. Simple inexpensive gift ideas such as framed family photos or homemade tasty treats can be great presents.

Prioritizing tasks will also help with organizing what can be a hectic holiday schedule, said Ray. Setting time aside for individual errands and planning each day will ensure more enjoyable and productive shopping trips.
"You cannot do everything on Christmas Eve," said Ray. "Spread your shopping out over a number of days if possible, doing a little each day. Take time out for yourself every once and a while and treat yourself to something like ice cream, while shopping."

It is also important to make the most of available time, said Ray. Sometimes saying "no" to holiday parties and extracurricular activities is tough, but not attending might allow more time for important errands.

For some couples, deciding on which family (his or hers) to spend Christmas with can be a tough. Traveling great distances to visit different relatives can be hectic, especially for families with children. But creating new traditions and celebrating Christmas at home may prove to be less work and more fun. After all that, is what Christmas is supposed to be Ð a fun time with family, said Ray.

"Christmas has become so commercial we overlook the true meaning of Christmas," said Ray.
Very few families are perfect and not everyone gets along. But family members need to put their differences aside and dwell on positive memories instead of bad past experiences to make the holidays more enjoyable. 

Entertaining company for Christmas can be enjoyable, but also a lot of work for one person, said Ray. Splitting up the cooking and chores around the house between family members will mean the host will have less worry.

According to Ray, people need to realize dinner and their house will never look like something out of Southern Living, no matter how hard they try. So they need to forget about perfection and be happy with what they have.

"There is a lot of room for error," said Ray. "So if you burn something you're cooking, or the house doesn't look just right, forget about it. Your guests will be happy with what you have, so there's no sense worrying."

But even if precautions are taken, stress might still be overwhelming around the holidays, and one might find himself on the verge of self-combusting. There is more than one way to skin a cat. People just need to find the way that is the least stressful.

"If you are feeling too stressed, just stop what you're doing," said Ray, "and re-evaluate what you are doing."

When stress is just too much, many steps can be taken to relieve the pressure. Along with stopping and taking a deep breathe or going for a five-minute walk, talking to a friend or family member about a problem can also relieve stress. But simple things such as getting the proper amount of sleep, eating right and taking breaks during a stressful task can also be helpful.

For more information concerning stress management, call Ray at 639-5252.