Handling Holiday Stress

My dog needed his walk this afternoon so I grabbed the leash and headed toward the beach. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one enjoying the warmer temps outside. Several dog owners were out, strolling along the beach with smiles on their faces. One such person stopped me in passing and exasperated, uttered one sentence, “Enough! Enough! Thanksgiving just blends into Christmas…” (I’ve never met this woman before today). Interesting, she felt the need to express her consternation with a total stranger. Talk about being stressed out!



It’s true that the holiday season is a time for good will and peace on earth. Yet occasionally, that concept becomes elusive. Slipped into the simmering wassail is a healthy dose of holiday stress. We’ve all suffered from it at one time or another, most likely wishing hoping it will pass quickly. Finding ways to handle holiday stress is possible, given the right tools and determination.


Signs of Holiday Stress


Think about what stress looks like to you. What are the symptoms of yuletide-overload? The American Heart Association has identified several tell-tale signs of stress:

  • Aches and Pains* Feelings
  • Headache Anxiety
  • Backache Anger
  • Neckache
  • Depression
  • Stomach ache
  • Helplessness
  • Tight muscles
  • Feeling out of control
  • Clenched jaw
  • Tense
  • Energy Level and Sleep* Other Emotional Signs
  • Feeling tired without a good reason
  • Easily irritated or impatient
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Forgetful


Of course, symptoms such as those listed above can also be associated with illness, disease and medication reactions. Should there ever be a question as to the cause of such symptoms, an evaluation by a physician is appropriate.


Dealing with stress is the trick. However, identifying whether or not one is handling holiday stress is not always easy to do. AHA provides some self-evaluation questions that may help to identify whether one is coping well with circumstances. (AHA – How Does Stress Affect You?)


If you answer any of the following in the affirmative, your behavior might indicate a need to cope differently:


Ask yourself, when under stress, do any of these behaviors apply to you?


• I eat to calm down.
• I speak and eat very fast.
• I drink alcohol or smoke to calm down.
• I rush around but do not get much done.
• I work too much.
• I delay doing the things I need to do.
• I sleep too little, too much or both.
• I slow down.
• I try to do too many things at once


Finding a way to relieve stress during the holidays will help stave off stress-related illness and injury, not to mention the added cheer brought to holiday festivities. Everyone copes differently and discovering exactly what works best for you may look entirely different for someone else. Take, for example, my new acquaintance. I relax when I walk in the sunshine, listening to the calming ocean waves as I pound the sand with my dogs on leash. It was very clear from our encounter that walking her dog was not doing the trick. She was visibly distraught when she announced, “Enough!”


SureFire CPR is here to help you get ready for those stressful times when emergencies or accidents require immediate interventions. Learn what to do by taking a Basic Life Support or Basic First Aid course with SureFire CPR. Stave off stress – be prepared to Save a Life.

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About the author

I spent 15 years as a firefighter and paramedic...

And too often I would arrive on the scene of someone unconscious, surrounded by a circle of people feeling helpless. Sometimes those people would even have CPR training but lacked the confidence and experience to act.

That’s why I started SureFire CPR. Our classes are practical and engaging – teaching you the crucial skills you need to know what to do and feel empowered to take action.

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Zack Zarrilli, Founder

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