Your Health

Keep your holiday stress level to a minimum

The stress of family holiday events and professional commitments may make you feel like you are in your own version of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” While the added responsibilities of parties and school functions can turn anyone into poor George Bailey, don’t let seasonal stress steal your joy and spirit of giving.

Following are suggestions for dodging the holiday blues and staying healthy and energized.

Stress-busting tips

• Stick with your established daily routine. Much stress can be traced to false guilt. Before agreeing to additional holiday tasks, organize your daily schedule and then add selected commitments if you can handle them, with breaks in between.

• Use mood-lifters like essential oils. No time for a luxurious bath with mood-enhancing aromatherapy? Remove your guilt and improve your mood and spiritual bliss with a few drops of essential oils with an oil diffuser. You also can dab essential oils onto a cloth napkin and inhale them during breaks.

• Do less and enjoy more. Embrace the holiday season as an opportunity to spend time with loved ones. Don’t create endless chores. Rather than struggling with cooking, shopping and meeting exasperating expectations, take acceptable shortcuts.

• Take quick walks for sun and nutrients. Sunlight replaces vitamin D and serotonin in your system. Just five to 15 minutes of sunshine on your face, arms and hands three times per week provides nutrients that promote health, illness prevention and elevated mood.

• Accept that no one is perfect, especially during the holidays. Your house doesn’t have to be a holiday showcase. Pick foods that are easy to prepare for potlucks or family events.

• Seek out fun and laughter. Watch funny movies, play games or host a family joke night.

• Get a massage with a friend. Double up on two needed tasks by bringing a stressed-out friend or family member to a massage appointment. Get some relaxation and help someone while you are at it.

• Take a break from tech devices. Shut off all digital devices when spending time with others so that your attention is not split into different directions – away from the people you are speaking with.

• Keep exercising. The holidays are not the time to take a break from your Pilates or dance classes. Dedicating short blocks of time to a bicycle ride or walk on the beach can reset your mental attitude.

• Think positive thoughts. Do not lie awake thinking bad thoughts. You need more rest to perform your best. Write down your problem and set it aside to solve later.

Kim Gladfelter is owner, physical therapist and Pilates instructor at PhysioFit Physical Therapy and Wellness, 1000 Fremont Ave., Los Altos. For more information, call 887-6046 or visit

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