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TWU Experts Discuss Ways To Beat Stress During Holidays

TWU Experts Discuss Ways To Beat Stress During Holidays

Holiday Feature

DENTON — The traditional images of Christmas are families caroling, decorating the tree and happily sitting down to a dinner of turkey and dressing and all the trimmings. What's often not shown is the effort it takes to put together a family event and the stress it can cause.

A Texas Woman's University professor and a nutritionist with the university's Wellness Center say that trying to create the perfect holiday can leave the organizer with no time to enjoy the occasion.

“People have high expectations for the holidays,” said Dr. Roberta Nutt, professor of psychology and philosophy at TWU. “We glorify the Christmas holiday in particular. It's supposed to be a wonderful time spent with people you love — a time of great happiness and presents. And it never is all those things.”

Women particularly want the holiday to be perfect, Nutt said. Working women often try to re-create their childhood holidays, which were organized by mothers who often didn't work outside the home, she said.

Nutt said busy families should find other ways to get things done, such as hiring someone to put up the Christmas lights, clean house or do odd jobs, if financially feasible, or reduce the list of chores and expectations. They also should find time to relax.

“People don't take enough time for self-care,” Nutt said, adding that going for a walk, a drive or going to the gym can help relieve stress.

Melissa Hendricks, facilities manager and nutritionist at the TWU Wellness Center, agreed that remaining active is a good way to reduce stress.

“Your family will pick up on your stress, and they won't have the wonderful time you want them to have,” she said.

Hendricks recommends that people simplify their holiday plans by dropping traditions that aren't all that meaningful and keeping those that are.

“Spend time on things that really matter, so you still have time for your workout,” she said.

Maintaining an exercise regime is important, and those who continue exercising through the holidays are more likely to stick to their routine through January and beyond, she said.

However, Hendricks said people shouldn't worry if their entire exercise program won't fit into their holiday schedule.

“Any exercise you do is good,” she said. “It doesn't matter if you can't fit in a whole hour.”

There are simple ways to work exercise into your holiday, Hendricks said. For example, shopping can be a form of exercise as you walk from store to store. And after the holiday meal, she said, “go outside and do something. Go for a walk with your family instead of watching TV.”


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Karen Treat
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Tel: (940) 898-3456