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Westchester Expert Provides Tips For Managing Holiday Stress

Dr. Catherine Isaac of Scarsdale Medical Group.
Dr. Catherine Isaac of Scarsdale Medical Group. Photo Credit: Submitted

SCARSDALE, N.Y. -- With the gift-giving, the cooking, the decorations and the parties, the holidays can seem to be more like work than a vacation. And, oh, the stress of it all! 

Catherine Isaac, MD, a board-certified internist at Scarsdale Medical Group, with offices in Scarsdale and Harrison, said these feelings are normal. "The holidays carry with them heightened expectations for perfection,. We tell ourselves we need things such as a beautiful table, good food, happy family, generous gifts and lots of invitations to parties in order to be happy. If any or all of these conditions are not met, than our happiness is spoiled."

We put so much stress on ourselves to “do it all” that we tend to overtax ourselves by spending too much, eating too much, working overtime to earn more, and staying up late. With our fatigue we become irritable, and we find ourselves lost on this very circuitous route to happiness, she said.

"Jim Henson said, 'Simple is good,' and that simple straightforward wisdom says a lot," stressed Dr. Issac. "We confuse ourselves when we equate busyness with happiness. They are not the same thing. Often when we ask a friend how they are, we get the reply, 'Keeping busy.' My question is why are we not keeping happy? If we set our internal compass to happiness rather than busyness, we will see that our lives begin to change."

Her advice for reducing stress? Set your compass to happy. Some tips:

  • Keep things simple. Make it easy for yourself by ordering gifts online. Or make your gift a ticket to an event. No wrapping and hauling involved!
  • Pay attention. The holidays call up a lot of emotions. Pay attention to how you are feeling and take care of yourself. 
  • Let go of the past. Often we try to recreate joyous times from the past. When we do so, we miss new joys available to us in the present. Work on creating new traditions.
  • Make time for meditation. Meditation is like a mini-break for your mind. If we take cues from nature, we can see that winter is a time for stillness. 
  • Practice gratitude. Concentrate on all the things that are going well in your life. 

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