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University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center
Publish Date: 12/12/02
Media Contact: AHC Public Relations, (513) 558-4553
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Random Acts of Kindness Reduce Holiday Stress

Cincinnati--Concerns about bio-terrorist threats have only increased the normal emotional tensions caused by traveling, shopping and entertaining associated with the Christmas holidays. Finding the extra time needed for decorating, cooking and entertaining adds stress to people's already busy schedules during the holidays. "Losing privacy due to extended visits with family and friends can cause additional tension," said Walter Smitson, PhD, director of the Central Psychiatric Clinic at the University of Cincinnati (UC) Medical Center. Dr. Smitson, who is a psychotherapist, a sociologist and a UC professor, offers the following tips to reduce holiday stress:

  • Instead of shopping in crowded stores with overworked sales people, reach out and do something to help neighbors, coworkers, or those less fortunate. "Helping others makes us feel good about ourselves," Dr. Smitson explained.

  • Walk a dog, rest, or find quiet moments alone. Often, children are home from school, spouses are on holiday from work, and friends and family are coming to your home to visit. "All of these increase the amount of social interaction we have with others and makes private moments even more precious," he said.

  • The short winter days reduce the amount of light we receive and cause us to feel tired or sad. This light-deprivation-induced depression is called "Seasonal Affective Disorders" or SAD. "Remember that the days will begin getting longer after December 21, and bright artificial lights can help compensate for the dark days," Smitson added.

  • Create traditions such as singing holiday songs or watching plays or movies with friends and family. "Know your limits. Don't overload yourself with food, alcohol, shopping, or parties, and you will enjoy the holidays," Dr. Smitson said.


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