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:
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
- 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.
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.
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.