Childhood expert advises adults cut holiday stress through resilience

Dec. 15, 2013 at 12:00 AM
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VILLANOVA, Pa., Dec. 14 (UPI) -- A study says 1-in-4 U.S. adults reports feeling "extreme stress" this time of year, but a childhood expert suggests ways to develop holiday resilience.

Nefertiti Bruce, early childhood specialist and national trainer at the Devereux Center for Resilient Children, a non-profit behavioral healthcare organization, emphasizes looking beyond the craze of the holidays to build personal resilience by rediscovering the season's original values: thankfulness, family, rest and laughter.

Bruce advises to:

-- Grow in gratitude: Rather than wishing for a new golf club or handbag, the greatest and purest gratitude we can develop is when we learn to appreciate the small things in life: hugging a significant other, eating a wholesome meal, watching your child smile. Ask yourself today, what am I thankful for? Write down all the things you are thankful for during this time of year and place it by your bedside.

-- Ask for help: Many view asking for help as a sign of weakness and co-dependence, but on the contrary, when we ask someone else for something out of our power -- be it an opinion from a friend, clarification from a colleague or assistance from a neighbor -- we open ourselves to new opportunities and experiences. Assign one stressful holiday task to a friend or family member explain why their help is valuable.

-- Laugh out loud: Not only is laughter good for us on a physiological level, laughter helps us alleviate stress and elevate our sense of well being. Cuddle up with a loved one and watch a holiday comedy.

-- Listen deeply: Research finds the the average person listens at only 25 percent efficiency. When we listen deeply, it increases our chances of forming meaningful, long-lasting relationships. Collect all the electronics in your household and put them away and for the next 2 to 3 hours, share the past week's stories over hot chocolate or a home cooked meal.

-- Make time for a hobby: When we invest time and energy into something we love, we feel a sense of pride and confidence in our self-worth. Rather than succumbing to the notion that our work defines us, making time for a hobby reinforces our individualism and helps us distinguish ourselves from being just another face in the workforce crowd.

-- Practice self-calming techniques: Braving hordes of eager holiday shoppers is no easy task. Listen to some soothing holiday classical music or pick up a light read. Pinpoint your stress triggers and practice deep breathing techniques.

-- Rest: Research shows that getting plenty of rest helps both mentally and physically. Balance your schedule to ensure a proper 8 hours of rest at night.

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