Simon Says: Don’t stress out over the holidays

December 18, 2013 8:45 AM

Fran Simon

I have a colleague at work who’s making a list and checking it twice — and there are 19 things to do on it! The holidays and winter recess can be joyful, but the hubbub also may cause added stress.

Simon Says
Earlier this month I attended a program on “Building skills to handle life’s pressures.” The speaker was Chris Lissard, a certified holistic stress management nurse and coach, brought to campus through the Tulane University Employee Assistance Program (EAP), provided by Horizon Health.

“My mantra for the holidays is: Who said?” Lissard confided to the group of employees. She suggested we challenge the “rules” that we feel we must follow. Set healthy boundaries on your time, energy and intrusions or demands from other folks.

“Ask yourself the question: ‘How do I know when enough is enough?’ Learn to say ‘no’ to avoid a downward spiral,” Lissard advised.

Lissard encouraged us to know our personal signs of being pressured — from the emotional (feeling angry, crying and so forth), to the physical (such as headaches or stomachaches) to the mental (can’t focus?) and spiritual (starting to curse out your inlaws?). Then, when we see these signs popping up, we can implement a personal plan to address the stress. 

“If something has worked in the past, follow that template,” Lissard coached. When feeling overwhelmed, Lissard said, a good first step is to separate from the situation. “Stop and take one deep breath.”

In a blog about beating holiday stress, Tulane alumnus and psychiatrist Dr. Ned Hallowell advised: “The holidays are not the time to try something new. They are the time to stick with what’s tried and true. That will help ensure that you’re at your best this holiday season and you enjoy yourself. Remember to take time and savor the joy of the moment.”

And remember to stick to your exercise schedule, hydrate and get enough rest!

Fran Simon is managing editor of New Wave.

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000 website@tulane.edu