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Around the Home: Stress can easily sneak up on us and make us miserable.
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Whether it’s dealing with heavy traffic or a time crunch, this time of year can be quite challenging.

Here are some tips on preventing holiday stress from West Virginia University Cooperative Extension:

Recognize how you deal with stress. Determine if you are relying on unhealthy behaviors, like smoking or eating, to manage stress. Is this a behavior you rely on year- round or is it specific to holiday stress?

Take care of yourself. Doing so during the holiday season helps to keep your mind and body primed to deal with stress. Pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Acknowledge your feelings. Engage in holiday activities that you enjoy and find relaxing. Exercise regularly. Eat healthy. Make sure you get enough rest and sleep. Make time for yourself.

Manage your finances. Decide how much money you can afford to spend on gifts and other items before you go shopping. If possible, donate to a charity in someone’s name, give homemade gifts or start a family gift exchange in place of spending more than you can afford on gifts for everyone.

Learn to say “no.” More times than not, people will understand if you can’t accept a certain project or attend an event. If you say “yes” only to the things you want to and should do, you will feel less resentful, bitter, and overwhelmed.

Ask for support. Accepting help from those who care about you and will listen to you strengthens your resilience and ability to manage stress. Use the holidays to reconnect with friends and family. Strengthen your support network.

If you feel overwhelmed by stress, then consider seeking professional help. Psychologists are uniquely trained to understand the connection between the mind and body. They can offer strategies to help you manage stress, change unhealthy behaviors and address emotional issues.

Change one behavior at a time. Unhealthy behaviors develop over time. Replacing unhealthy behaviors with healthy ones doesn’t happen overnight. Start small and focus on changing one behavior.

As you prepare meals this season, remember you can find information online through the National Center for Home Food Preservation website and The Partnership for Food Safety Education holiday website.

If you’re looking for a gift idea, I suggest giving cookbooks or food-related books. They fit easily into a gift bag or simply wrap it in a new, but inexpensive dish towel. Add some ribbon and it’s ready. 

You can probably track down local cookbooks, created by area nonprofit organizations as well as places of worship, just by talking with friends and family.

By the way, there’s a limited supply of “So Easy to Preserve” available here at the Hall County Extension Office. The 375-page book offers useful information for both the new and experienced food preserver.

It includes 35 new tested recipes and processes, in addition to a new section with recommended procedures for home-canned salsas. The price is only $18 and cash and check are accepted. 

Sandra Stringer is a nutrition educator with the Hall County Extension Office, 770- 535-8290. Her column appears biweekly.

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