It's Easy to Say 'Don't Stress' During the Holidays - Here's How to Do It

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- With the cooking, cleaning, and relatives staying at your house, the holidays can get pretty stressful for almost anyone.

"It's easy to feel out of control. There are so many things that seem like they're imposed on us, all these various obligations we have to meet. When something has a sense of obligation to it, it's easy to focus on what we're giving up, what the costs of doing this are, all the inconvenience," said University at Buffalo Psychology Professor Mark Seery, Ph.D.

It is easy to focus on what could go wrong, and even though it's supposed to be a time to give thanks and spend time with family, Thanksgiving can quickly turn into a competition.

"Social comparison with brothers and sisters and cousins who are at the same stage of life as you are, nieces and nephews who are at the same stages of life as your kids are and it's easy to compare who's getting better grades in school, who's having greater success," said Seery.

Psychologists say the increased pressure and feeling of obligation can lead to stress, which can cause negative physical consequences including poor sleep, weight gain and a weakened immune system, but there are a few tips to ease the burden, including spreading around some of the obligation.

"In any given situation, there's almost always some aspect of control to be found. There are small choices that we do have control over and focusing on these smaller aspects of control, has been shown in research to help people be able to cope more effectively," said Seery.

Experts say focusing on the meaning of the season can limit stress.

"One coping resource that is beneficial for coping with anything really is a strong social network, and when we go through the holidays like these and get together whether it's with family or friends, these are all people who are part of our social network," said Seery.

Since the holiday season is just starting, experts say to limit stress for the rest of the year by taking care of yourself. That means eating right, exercising and forgetting the small stuff.

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