‘Tis the season to be stressed

The holidays are supposed to be a joyful time of year. It is typically a time to rest, relax and spend time with loved ones. Often though, there are many unseen stressors. A NBC news survey showed that “forty-five percent of Americans would prefer to skip Christmas,” Every minute of the holiday season seems to be filled with gift shopping, cooking, christmas cards, the all too common stress of family dinners, and for Montanans the time that is set aside, purely to be spent driving in the snow. 
    The holiday season directly affects the brain, according to Ellen Braaten, a professor at Harvard Medical School. Daily behaviors, such as time management, focus, detail organization and planning become of higher demand during this season. 
   Braaten states, “because the holiday season often requires us to keep track of and pay attention to a greater number of responsibilities than usual, the brain’s prefrontal cortex goes into overdrive. Over time, a high level of demand can decrease memory, halt production of new brain cells, and cause existing brain cells to die.” 
   Because this is a short and immediate threat, it is easy to recover from. However, stress is not healthy for the body and should try to be avoided. So, in the midst of all this chaos, it can be hard for one to simply find time to sit down and enjoy the Christmas season.
   The first thing to do is begin to set priorities. It is helpful to write down all that needs to get done and then prioritize. Writing things down is proven to help with anxiety. 
   Once priorities are set, focus on time management. Many adults believe during the holiday season that there are not enough hours in the day to get everything done; however, most often, there is. It all comes down to how one spends their time. Instead of jumping between projects, stick to one at a time. Set a schedule of when is appropriate to spend time on projects, and when it is time to take a break from the stress. In the middle of a stressful holiday moment, take a minute, take a breath and try to remember what the holiday season is truly about. Walk into this Christmas season choosing to make the best of every situation. ’tis the season to be stressed

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