Employee Assistance Program offers tips to reduce holiday stress

By DLA Public Affairs

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For some, it’s the “most wonderful time of the year,” when many Defense Logistics Agency employees’ thoughts turn to shopping, traveling and spending time with family members. But during the holiday season, stress levels can rise with parties and gift-giving.

DLA’s Employee Assistance Program provider suggests ways to maintain realistic expectations and provides planning strategies to help employees manage the balance of celebrating without straining nerves or finances.

Holiday stress can increase when people feel pressure to buy and give gifts or overextend socially. EAP urges employees to think about events that trigger anxiety during the holidays and focus on things they can do to help reduce tension.

Some ideas to prepare for the holidays:

  • Set a spending limit – Lack of money is one of the biggest stressors during the holiday season. This year, define a budget and don't overspend. Don't buy gifts you'll spend the rest of the year trying to pay off.
  • Give something personal – Show love with a gift that is meaningful, personal and doesn't cost a lot. Use words instead of an expensive gift to let people know how important they are. Make a phone call or write a note to share your feelings.
  • Get organized – Make lists or use an appointment book to keep track of tasks and events.
  • Share tasks – Don’t do everything yourself. Share to-do lists with others. Spend time with friends and family while sharing responsibilities like decorating, wrapping gifts and preparing the holiday meal.
  • Learn to say no – It’s OK to say "no" to events that aren't important to you. This will give you more time to say "yes" to events that you do want to attend.
  • Be realistic – Don’t pressure yourself to create the perfect holiday for your family. Focus instead on traditions that make holidays special. Remember, just because it's a holiday, family problems don't go away. If you have a hard time being around your relatives, it's OK to set limits on your time at events and visits.

During the holidays, employees may not be able to avoid stressful situations. But they can plan to respond to them in a healthy way.

Remember to:

  • Take breaks from group activities. Pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Spend a little time by yourself if you can. Meditate, do some relaxation breathing or go for a short walk.
  • Keep regular sleep, meal and exercise schedules. Limit alcohol intake. Taking care of yourself will help you deal with stressful situations.
  • Get support if you need it. Holidays can sometimes trigger depression. They can be especially hard if you are already dealing with the death of a loved one or the breakup of a relationship. You may feel embarrassed to ask for help, or you may think that you'll get over "the blues" on your own, but many people need treatment to get better. Talk with your doctor about counseling and medicine for depression.

For more ideas on ways to reduce holiday stress including articles, videos and webinars, employees can visit the new EAP website or call EAP’s toll-free number, 866-580-9046.