Massachusetts - A recent survey by the American Psychological Association has shown that more women than men describe the holidays as the most stressful time of the year due to the intensified focus on family, work and money.
Women, however, are less likely to take time to relax or manage that stress in healthy ways. Research shows that stress, and the unhealthy behaviors people use to manage it, contribute to some of America's biggest health problems such as obesity, heart disease and diabetes.
People should pay attention to what causes stress and find healthy ways to manage it, said Dr. Russ Newman, psychologist and American Psychological Association's executive director for professional practice.
Some tips from the APA:
• Identify factors for holiday stress: What holiday events or situations trigger stressful feelings? Are they related to work, home, relationships or something else?
• Recognize how you deal with stress: Determine if you are relying on unhealthy behaviors such as smoking or eating to manage stress. Is this a behavior you rely on year-round, or is it specific to holiday stress?
• Change one behavior at a time: Unhealthy behaviors develop over the course of time. Replacing unhealthy behaviors with healthy ones requires time. Start small and focus on changing one behavior.
• Take care of yourself: Taking care of yourself during the holiday season helps to keep your mind and body primed to deal with stress. Pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Engage in holiday activities that you enjoy and find relaxing. Exercise regularly. Eat healthy. Make sure you get enough rest and sleep.
• Ask for support: Accepting help from those who care about you and will listen to you strengthens your resilience and ability to manage stress. Use the holidays as a time to reconnect with friends and family and strengthen your support network. If you feel overwhelmed by stress, then consider seeking professional help. Psychologists are uniquely trained to understand the connection between the mind and body. They can offer strategies to help you manage stress, change unhealthy behaviors and address emotional issues.
— The Associated Press