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Holiday Stress? Illinois Expert: "Reframe Your Expectations"

Not focusing on the stressors and spending time with loved ones or giving to others are among the best ways to improve your own sense of happiness and well-being.  Image by: Steven Damron
Not focusing on the stressors and spending time with loved ones or giving to others are among the best ways to improve your own sense of happiness and well-being. Image by: Steven Damron
December 16, 2013

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - While it's said to be the most wonderful time of the year, it can also be the most stressful time for many Illinoisans. From the shopping and decorating to the office parties and family gatherings, the holidays can mean a lot of work and a lot of places to go.

According to Dr. Nancy Molitor, a Chicago area clinical psychologist, such a large to-do list leaves some people feeling overwhelmed.

"The reality is that many people can't meet those expectations and then, they feel lonely and disappointed," the doctor cautioned. "So, that's one of the stressors, is that there's a tremendous amount of expectations that can't possibly be met."

She suggested taking a moment to reflect on what's most important in your life.

"Focus on what the holidays are supposed to be all about and spend your time and energy accordingly."

She added that spending time with loved ones or giving to others are among the best ways to improve your own sense of happiness and well-being.

Molitor said money and work, or lack of it, also cause stress and worry for many, feelings that are heightened during the holidays.

"People are still struggling in the economy, and maybe been laid off for the whole year, and there's a tremendous amount of expectations, especially if one has children or grandchildren," she said. "That kind of stress can put a lot of guilt and disappointment in the minds of many people."

She advised "reframing" the season by creating a realistic budget and reminding children that holidays aren't about expensive gifts. She added that finding ways to give back to others can also help people change their perspectives and find meaning in the hectic season.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IL