NDSU Extension - Mercer County


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Don't Stress Out During the Holidays

holiday stress, holiday preparations

Submitted by Dena Kemmet, Extension Agent/Family and Consumer Sciences

Holidays are a great time to gather family and friends. Holidays can be stressful times, too, as people try to squeeze in lots of extra activities in the same amount of time.

Maybe you wonder how to find time to make special foods. You also might wonder how to afford holiday foods and/or gifts.

Consider these tips to manage the stress and enjoy the holiday season.

Plan Ahead

Do some of the preparation ahead of time.

  • Make meals in a slow cooker. Slow cookers simmer soups, chili, stew and other foods while you do other things.
  • Prepare freezer meals, which are ready to thaw and pop in your oven or slow cooker on days when you are too busy to cook.
  • Visit www.ag.ndsu.edu/food and type "slow cooker" or "freezer meals" in the search box for recipe ideas.

Simplify Your Plans

If you usually make 10 kinds of special holiday foods, ask your family what their top five special foods are. Start some new, easier holiday traditions.

  • Have a potluck at your next event to spread the food preparation tasks.
  • Have a "theme" party, such as healthy appetizers, baked potatoes with all the toppings, or a homemade pizza party.

Stretch Your Budget

Gifts become a major expense during the holiday season. The following gifts do not cost a lot of money.

  • If you like to cook, make "food mixes" such as soups, beverages, and bread mixes. See www.ag.ndsu.edu/food and type "gift mixes in a jar" in the search box.
  • If you like to sew or knit, make a homemade gift such as mitten or scarves.
  • Give the gift of time, such as free baby-sitting for busy parents, shoveling snow or help with household tasks.

Get Some Exercise

Bundle up and enjoy outdoor activities in the winter. Exercise is a great stress reliever. Wear layers of clothing, including a hat, scarf, and mittens to stay warm.

  • Have fun sledding or building a snowman.
  • If the weather is just too cold to be outside, visit a mall, a school gym, or other place in your community that allows you to exercise inside. Turn on some music and exercise (or dance!), or use a exercise DVD or online exercise videos at home.

Get Enough Sleep

Stress can lead to sleep loss, and losing sleep can increase your chances of getting sick. Adults need seven to nine hours of sleep every night. Children need more sleep.

  • Try to go to sleep at the same time every night.
  • Read or relax before you go to sleep. Avoid using phones, computers, or other devices.
  • Avoid caffeine before bed.
  • Keep the room dark and not too warm.

    The best laid plans regularly go astray! Expect glitches and make the best of what comes your way. Don’t let the stress of upcoming holidays overshadow the joy of spending time with family, exchanging gifts, nibbling on holiday goodies and relaxing with friends. No one should be too frazzled to enjoy what the holidays are all about.

Source: Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist, NDSU Extension Service

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