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Guest Column

Tips for Reducing Holiday Stress

Joanne Oppelt

Friday, November 22, 2013 • 11:17pm

Beginning any minute now you will be able to watch “A Christmas Story” 24 hours a day and laugh repeatedly as Ralphie’s hopes of receiving a Red Rider BB gun for Christmas are dashed with the stern warning, “You’ll poke your eye out, kid.”

Yet in truth, the holiday season can pose very real dangers through stress and related health problems – even for those of us who “love the holidays.”

Ninety percent of Americans report feeling stressed over some part of the holiday season, according to Prevention.com. According to the American Psychological Association, 69 percent of people are stressed by feeling a lack of time, 69 percent are stressed by perceiving a lack of money and 51 percent feel stressed over the pressure of gift-giving or receiving.

Other general pressures offered by various sources include unrealistic expectations; family pressures; too many commitments; a lack of moderation in eating and drinking; taking on additional workloads (especially women); loneliness; and missing a loved one.

CONTACT We Care, the local crisis hotline and suicide prevention trainer serving Central and Northern New Jersey, has trained volunteer listeners and texters available to help people get through holiday stress or depression. Listeners are trained to provide an empathetic and nonjudgmental ear and all calls are anonymous and confidential.

Callers can reach CONTACT by dialing 908-232-2880 or texting “CWC” to 839863.

CONTACT We Care also offers the following tips for managing stress during the holidays:

  1. Have Realistic Expectations – Not everything is going to be perfect so do not expect it to be.

  2. Set Realistic Budgets – Spend only what you can afford and talk to your children about not expecting too much.

  3. Set Aside Time for Yourself – Read, exercise, do something you enjoy.

  4. Say No – Do not accept every invitation or go to every function.

  5. Be With People – Surround yourself with loved ones or, if you are alone, join a club or volunteer at a charity.

  6. Eat Right – Minimize the sweets, take reasonable portions and drink no more than usual.

  7. Seek Direction – Do not feel compelled to surprise everyone with their gift – ask them what they want.

  8. Accept Help – If hosting a party or gathering, let others help.

  9. Keep Decorating Simple – Perhaps deck just one hall rather than all of them.

  10. Set aside differences – Let grievances or family squabbles lie.

“The holidays are a time of joy for many people,” said Joanne Oppelt, executive director of CONTACT We Care. “But they can be very stressful for many people and even depressing for some.

“While we receive calls from many people who are in deep crisis, we also are here for people who are simply overwhelmed by the moment. We are here to help them keep the moment’s stress from building into something more problematic.”

In addition to serving Central and Northern New Jersey, CONTACT We Care is a primary responder to calls to the national suicide prevention line (1-800-273-TALK or 1-800-SUICIDE) that originate in New Jersey.

Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer listener should contact Sue Fasano at 908.301.1899.

About CONTACT We Care

CONTACT We Care is Central and Northern New Jersey’s crisis listening line, receiving more than 12,000 calls per year.  CONTACT brings comfort and hope to people in emotional distress through active, empathetic and nonjudgmental listening.  All calls are free, anonymous and confidential.  If you are in crisis and need someone to listen, call our hotline at 908-232-2880.  We are affiliated with CONTACT USA, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and the American Association of Suicidology.  For general information about CONTACT We Care or to become a volunteer, call us at 908-301-1899 or visit our website at www.contactwecare.org.

 The Guest Column is our readers' opportunity to write about a given issue or topic in an in-depth and educational manner.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TheAlternativePress.com or anyone who works for TheAlternativePress.com. TheAlternativePress.com is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

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