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Managing Holiday Stress


Updated December 04, 2012

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Let’s face it, the holidays can be a stressful time — spending time with family isn’t always fun, and there’s always too much to do. We eat way too many extra calories, and there never seems to be enough time to exercise or take time to ourselves. We go shopping, wrap presents, decorate the house, bake cookies, decorate the cookies, plan parties . . . it’s no wonder that we find ourselves overstressed and overworked each December.

Sometimes it seems like so much that we barely enjoy the holidays, a time of year that should be reserved for fun, reflection and appreciation for the special people around us. This year, instead of giving in to the demands of the season, make your holidays the way you want them.

Keep to your diet and exercise plan.

Eating healthy foods gives your body the nutrition it needs to function efficiently, and keeps you from feeling tired or low-energy. Exercise can also boost energy levels and help prevent weight gain — one of the major concerns of women, especially women with PCOS, during this time of year.


It may seem counter-intuitive when you have so much to do, but getting a good night’s rest can help you feel your best. It can help curb your appetite (several studies have shown that women tend to overeat when they are sleepy), and help you feel well enough to get things done.

Don’t turn to drugs or alcohol

It may seem like an easy solution at the time, especially when that extra glass of wine is sitting in front of you. But in the long run, drugs and alcohol will only complicate things, and can exacerbate PCOS. Excessive amounts of alcohol can raise the blood sugar and worsen insulin resistance, two problems that women with PCOS already face.

Learn to say no

Say no to the cookie swaps and class parties and church fundraisers — you know, all those extra commitments that you don’t want to or have time to do. By lightening your load to the tasks you only really want to do, you’ll feel more fulfilled and have more fun through the whole season.

Check in with friends

Your friends can be a huge support system. They’ll make you laugh and listen to your family horror stories. They can help you put your problems in perspective and figure out the solutions. Grab lunch, go shopping, start a regular walking program — it doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you have a trusted friend or group of friends with you.

Get help if you need it

Many people report feeling depressed during the holiday. If you feel that your holiday stress is beyond what is typical, don’t hesitate to check in with your therapist or even make an appointment to start seeing one if you don’t regularly go to therapy. It can help you talk out some of your frustrations to someone who is impartial.

Plan something fun or do something challenging that you might not ordinarily do

Take a class, go scuba diving or do something that pushes your boundaries. You will probably find it exhilarating, and this can create memories that will last the rest of your life. It also gives you something fun to talk about at your family functions.

Build in time for yourself

If you know that this time of year is particularly stressful, plan something fun each week. Whether it’s a massage or a lunch out with friends, do something strictly to have fun and help you recharge. It's so important to take that time for yourself, especially when you are facing a crazy to-do list.
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