Don’t Let the Holiday Madness Drive You Mad

As a nurse for a medical call center, we get a lot of calls during holidays for coughs, fevers — and anxiety. Yes, ’tis the season of eating, shopping and pushing yourself to personal meltdown. But it doesn’t have to be, if you take a few precautions to enjoy the season without the holiday madness.

Shop Smart and Early
While everyone knows the best bargains are on Black Friday, it’s also the longest lines and fraught with horror stories about crazy deals bringing out the worst in all of us. And even if you camp out and line up early, that $49, 60-inch TV is probably gone by the time you navigate the stampede. Presuming you survive.

My advice? Just don’t do it. The stress isn’t worth the money saved. Start before Black Friday and watch for deals to tuck away all year long. Any shopping left by Thanksgiving, skip the malls that weekend and go back after the rush. Of course, if you’re reading this in December, a little too late for that plan. So suck it up, take your next day off and just get it done all at once. Gift cards are your friend, but make a resolution to do better next year.

Also, make and organize your Christmas gift list so you can stick to it — you want to get in, get out, and get ‘er done. There’s much better things to do during the holidays like decorating, baking and spiking the egg nog after the kiddies go to bed. A side benefit is not getting sucked into impulsive gift purchases and blowing your budget. Speaking of which…

Don’t Overspend
Either start up a Christmas account, or try to pick up gifts all year round. Small gifts for office exchanges or stocking stuffers tend to be less trendy and expensive and can be picked up year round without fear of it being outdated or obsolete by the holiday. If you’re super organized, many of these can be picked up at the after-Christmas sales.

That also means don’t get some new credit cards and max them out under the guise of “generosity.” You don’t want to avoid holiday stress by charging up a storm of gifts you can’t afford only to have a coronary come January, when the bills roll in. Be creative — give gifts with heart and soul, not big price tags.

Stay Healthy
You’re far more likely to get stressed — and sick — if you’re not taking care of yourself. And vice versa. Drink plenty of water to keep your body hydrated, especially after a little too much indulgence in the libations, if you know what I mean. Get plenty of rest and eat plenty of good foods like fruits, veggies and whole grains to offset all the junk food and candy coming your way every time you turn around. You know you’re going to indulge, and you should, at least a little. Moderation is the key.

The single most important thing you can do to stay healthy during the holidays and year round? Wash your hands. Going to eat something? Wash your hands. Just sneezed? Wash your hands. Touched that nasty public restroom doorknob? Really wash your hands.

As I nurse, I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I never get a flu shot. Never. But you can bet I wash my hands religiously. And I don’t get sick. Unless, of course, I completely run myself into the ground to exhaustion. Healer, heal thyself, and all that.

The holidays may be a mad rush, but don’t let them drive you mad. Plan ahead, keep your budget and take care of yourself to make your holidays merry and hopefully anxiety-free. Or at least anxiety-manageable.

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