Managing Stress During the Holidays

Managing Stress During the Holidays

By: Charlene Davisphoto

Statistics overwhelmingly indicate that stress is the root cause of many health-related issues including heart disease, cancer, obesity, depression, memory loss, high blood pressure, and diabetes. And with increasing demands on both your personal and professional life, learning how to effectively manage stress is more important than ever - especially with the holidays right around the corner!

The first step to stress management is identifying what factors in your life are causing you to feel anxious. Some people have physical symptoms such as headaches or high blood pressure while others may get internal symptoms like panic attacks or depression. In either case, recognizing the source can help you find methods that will help decrease your stress level.

Other steps you can take to manage stress is decreasing the amount of caffeine and alcohol you drink. Eat healthy snacks throughout the day to keep your blood sugar elevated. Deep breathing and meditation are easy techniques that require very little time. Also, exercise is a good way to manage stress that has many other health benefits by lowering blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight.

Dr. Kathleen Hall, internationally recognized stress and work-life balance expert, and founder/C.E.O. of The Stress Institute, Mindful Living Network and Alter Your Life (http://www.stressinstitute.com/) recommends artisans use her renowned S.E.L.F. Care program during the times of holiday stress to help stay cool and collected:

-Serenity: Listen to calming music before bed, do a short meditation, use guided imagery picturing leaves floating down a water stream or balloons floating off into the sky.

-Exercise: Take a walk, ride your bike, dance, practice yoga or play. Exercise is essential is stress reduction!

-Love: Maintain close relationships with friends and family members; look at the holidays as a time to take advantage of quality family time, even if you feel stressed at first. Healthy relationships contribute to healthy minds!

-Food: The holidays are full of wonderful food. Let yourself indulge a little bit rather than forbidding yourself from enjoying holiday treats!

Amy Stone, a pottery artist who does baby hand and feet impressions, and personalized baby gifts (http://www.mittspiggyspaws.com/andhttp://www.fairysandfrogs.com/), recommends organizing your time and getting plenty of sleep. "Set time goals for yourself and try to get in bed at a decent hour," she says. Stone admits this was hard for her to do initially because like a lot of artists she is most creative at night. "I learned to map out my time better and sleep at night instead of keeping owl's hours."

Stone also recommends keeping a calendar of deadlines so that you can clearly communicate to the customer when they can expect their finished order. "This is paramount, especially with Christmas fast approaching," she says. "I'm usually done much earlier than the allotted time frame, but this keeps customers satisfied and helps my sanity as I take on more projects."

Internationally recognized artist and designer, Pablo Solomon (http://www.pablosolomon.com/), encourages fellow artisans to not stress out by putting themselves into debt buying big, expensive presents. "My wife and I shop yard sales and junk stores year around to find unique items that our friends might cherish such as old books, art, vintage purses, and other collectibles," he says. "Often our gifts are the most appreciated because they show we put time and thought behind them."

Another gift-giving idea comes from Connie Mettler, publisher of the Art Fair Calendar (http://www.artfaircalendar.com/), who recommends that instead of spending hard earned money on gifts, start trading/bartering with other artists/artisans early in the year so that you are ready with gifts for the holidays. "Usually these are gifts you would have a hard time justifying paying retail for."

Remember to be good to yourself during this stressful time of year. While you cannot completely eliminate stress from your life, you can take steps to effectively manage it. Take some time on a regular basis to check all systems and regulate stress levels; your body and mind will thank you for it!

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CHARLENE DAVIS (http://www.thewriteessentials.com/) is an internationally published writer specializing in business, retail, e-commerce, and food. She wrote this feature article exclusively for the Association of Artisan Businesses (http://www.artisanbusinesses.org/), an organization dedicated to the preservation and promotion of the artisan industry.