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Ensure Holiday Happiness by Keeping Stress at Bay

PHOTO: "Stress Coach" Dr. Mort Orman, says planning ahead is the way to avoid overly hectic holidays. Courtesy of Dr. Orman.
PHOTO: "Stress Coach" Dr. Mort Orman, says planning ahead is the way to avoid overly hectic holidays. Courtesy of Dr. Orman.
December 7, 2012

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The holidays are upon us, and images of peace, love, harmony and family togetherness are popping up everywhere in Arkansas.

But the reality is that it also can be the most tense and stressful time of year. The Arkansas Psychological Association lists money as a top concern for many people. Dr. Mort Orman, a stress-relief expert, says family members have different ways of celebrating holidays – and if they don't voice those expectations, problems are sure to surface and cause stress.

"Because of our expectations, we want things to go a certain way. People start behaving differently. We want to try and get them to do the things the way we want them to do it. So, we try and get them to do that – and sometimes they don't want to do that, or that's not their particular way of doing it."

Orman says people should be willing to say "no," even if it means disappointing someone. He says just trying to balance family commitments during the holidays often overburdens family members and causes more unnecessary stress.

Planning is also an important factor to ensure the "12 Days of Christmas" will be restful, memorable and meaningful. Orman advises families to plan their budgets, trips, dinners and visiting times. He also suggests focusing on the things that you are able to control – even in situations that can sometimes seem out of control.

"Sometimes you may not be able to control somebody else's behavior, the traffic jam or the long lines at the checkout, but you do have some control over your own patterns: when you start shopping, how much time you allow to travel around during the holidays, how you respond to other people, and relate to other people."

The doctor's top tip is that no one can "do it all," so be practical and build in some time to connect with your spouse and children during the holidays. He says children take their cues from parents – so, when parents are stressed, children's emotions can quickly ramp up as well.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - AR