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Beating Christmas Stress

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In an infamous experiment in the 1960s, lab researchers wanted to examine effects of stress on rats. First, they took an individual rat, isolated it, then injected it with increasing doses of amphetamines until, in the name of science, the poor rat died. Next, researchers did the same to a group of rats in a confined area..

In an infamous experiment in the 1960s, lab researchers wanted to examine effects of stress on rats.

First, they took an individual rat, isolated it, then injected it with increasing doses of amphetamines until, in the name of science, the poor rat died. Next, researchers did the same to a group of rats in a confined area. To their amazement, the researchers found that it took a dose 20 times smaller to kill the rats confined in groups. As one researcher noted, "When we put them together, they went off like firecrackers!" Somehow, I have always linked this experiment to Christmas shopping in a mall.

Christmas can be a stressful season. I would like to offer the following strategies for helping you cope with the stress of the season.

Plan for the Family Feud

One of the great things about Christmas is that we get together with our families. One of the toughest things about Christmas is that we get together with our families. Structure visits with your family members to keep hassles to a minimum, and avoid situations where conflicts typically arise. Plan ahead to maximize positive time with your family.

Keep to a Budget

One of the stresses that Christmas places on us is financial. Too often we end up buying out of guilt or impulsiveness, never really knowing when enough is enough. A budget not only puts healthy boundaries around our finances but also forces us to think through and plan what we want to give. Planning before shopping also means less time with other hyped-up shoppers; this dramatically lessens stress.

Create Positive Rituals

As a society we lack rituals that give our lives structure and meaning. When we look back over the years, we can see what a strong glue these rituals have become in our relationships. Protect these special times at all costs. They are typically the ones that will be the most meaningful over the years.

Do Something Altruistic

Research shows that if you want to feel good, do something for those less fortunate. Feeding homeless people or giving to charities are powerful ways to recover the meaning of Christmas.

When the angels announced the birth of Christ, they said, "Peace on earth." What a far cry that seems from the frenetic pace that has become Christmas. If we want to experience the peace of the season, we have to plan for it.

All the other rats might be stressed, but that doesn't mean you have to be. Have a blessed and sacred Christmas.

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