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How to cope with Christmas

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Hang onto your Santa hat - Christmas is almost here, and your stress level is rising.
For many, the festive holiday can be an overwhelming turnstile of out-of-town guests, unusual activities, over-indulgence and deadlines. The supposed-tos can be relentless and being jolly a little forced.
The expectations and standards you demand of yourself may be unattainable. You might dip into the punch bowl a bit too often just to calm your nerves.
A little booze to escalate the happiness is OK, says Byron Miki, a counselling hypnotherapist in Kelowna. But over-
doing it can worsen the stress.
"We often aren't sleeping as much and we may overindulge in sugars, fats, even bright lights and loud music," he said. "There may be lots of new bodies, new drama, new emotion that's driving us up and down.
"You're trying to clean your house up … and you're not going to postpone it."
It's human nature to set high goals for ourselves, but they can set us up for disappointment. You might turn on the person you're closest to and lash out. Or you become sad.
For people who are mentally ill, the yuletide season can compound the strain. Feelings of loneliness pop up. You may manage your illness by having a normal routine the rest of the year, but December messes it up.
"All of a sudden we get (stressed) and our support network may be strained and … therapists, counsellors, friends may not be accessible. Your best friend and relatives may not be around," Miki said.
You have more time on your hand and may start descending into your illness. The best solution is to line up activities and people you can reach out to, he said.
If you're not prepared, get to a phone and speak to someone. Get out of your physical space, and go for a walk in the park. Go to church for spiritual fulfilment. Volunteer for a charity, Miki said.
Reduce stress by taking power naps or meditating for 20 minutes.
"Say to yourself ahead of time, 'if … the house is kind of clean, that's good enough. If I get one warm meal, that's fantastic,'" Miki said. "Moderate our expectations."
Acknowledge the good things around us, enjoy the moments and reflect. Forget being an over-achiever or winning points. Have a heart-to-heart with someone and seize the day.

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