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Holiday stress is here: How to have a calmer, more peaceful next few months

The holidays are a time of gathering with loved ones, cooking, baking, gift-giving and upholding family traditions. 

And while this time of year can be enjoyable, the demands on personal resources and energy can lead to stress between Thanksgiving and the New Year. 

But how can people abandon their drive to be superheroes during the holidays and yet still do it all?  

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Lisa Boucher of Kettering, Ohio, a former psychiatric registered nurse and now a best-selling author, has worked with many people over the past 25 years or more to overcome alcohol addictions, depression and anxiety.

Boucher shared important advice for fighting stress this holiday season — including steps that can help people potentially for years to come. 

Holiday gift giving can be a joy — but the holiday season as a whole can be a stressful time for many people. Author Lisa Boucher shared insights and tips about alleviating anxiety at this time of year.

Holiday gift giving can be a joy — but the holiday season as a whole can be a stressful time for many people. Author Lisa Boucher shared insights and tips about alleviating anxiety at this time of year.
(iStock)

“Most of the problem is our expectations, such as certain expectations of how the holiday should go, and how the family should act and react,” Boucher, 62, told Fox News Digital in a recent phone interview. 

“I always tell women and men: Anxiety lives in the future. So if you can bring yourself back to the present moment, there is usually not a lot of anxiety there.” 

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She added, “We have to stop letting other people’s expectations drive our behavior. You don’t have to add 40 different [traditions] in the same year,” she said. 

“Delegate tasks if you have a big family,” she said.

Author Lisa Boucher has a new book out, "Pray. Trust. Ride" (Nov. 2022). She said that "overscheduling" — especially at holiday time — "doesn't work and can lead to burnout." 

Author Lisa Boucher has a new book out, "Pray. Trust. Ride" (Nov. 2022). She said that "overscheduling" — especially at holiday time — "doesn’t work and can lead to burnout." 
(Lisa Boucher)

“Just because your cousin Sue expects you to have four dozen beautiful cookies — all homemade — doesn’t mean you have to continue to do that.”

She added, “If it’s spinning you out of control, manage expectations.”

‘Keep your peace’

Boucher, the author of “Pray. Trust. Ride” (Nov. 2022) — as well as “Raising the Bottom: Making Mindful Choices in a Drinking Culture” — told Fox News Digital that others need to accept people with different views this holiday season in order to sidestep added stress. 

“The holidays are a time of gratitude and relaxation, not a time to engage in discourse over the dinner table,” she said. 

Regarding the topics of “diverse political and religious beliefs“: “Don’t go there,” she said. “Keep your peace.”

She also said, “Stop thinking you can control other people’s emotions and feelings. Staying in our own lane is key. If there are other people who don’t get along — that’s not your circus. Let them work it out.” 

As Americans celebrate with family and friends this holiday season, one author advises avoiding difficult conversations about "diverse political and religious beliefs." Said Lisa Boucher, "Don't go there. Keep your peace."

As Americans celebrate with family and friends this holiday season, one author advises avoiding difficult conversations about "diverse political and religious beliefs." Said Lisa Boucher, "Don’t go there. Keep your peace."
(iStock)

Set boundaries

Some people have a hard time declining invitations — and they need to be comfortable with the word “No,” Boucher said. 

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“You can’t be in multiple places at once and you can’t attend every holiday festivity,” she said. “Set limits. Set boundaries. Practice saying the word, ‘No.'” 

She also said that “overscheduling doesn’t work and can lead to burnout.” 

Use alcohol in moderation

There are often many more parties during the holidays — and the temptation of imbibing alcohol comes along with that.

It’s easier to grab a drink to calm social anxiety and stress at dinner or during a cocktail party. 

"If you're already stressed out, drinking alcohol is like throwing an accelerant on a fire," said Lisa Boucher about holiday time. "Eventually, most of those maladaptive coping skills quit working."

"If you’re already stressed out, drinking alcohol is like throwing an accelerant on a fire," said Lisa Boucher about holiday time. "Eventually, most of those maladaptive coping skills quit working."
(iStock)

However, said Boucher, “if you’re already stressed out, drinking alcohol is like throwing an accelerant on a fire. Eventually, most of those maladaptive coping skills quit working.”

When alcohol is served at a gathering, she suggested having club soda with lime or some other nonalcoholic beverage. If do you choose to drink alcohol, put a limit on the amount you’re drinking, she said. 

Try yoga, take a walk, spend time in nature

Another healthy coping method for stress — instead of drinking alcohol — is doing yoga, Boucher said. 

“If you can’t afford to go to a class,” she said, “you can pull a video up on YouTube to do yoga and stretch right there in your office or wherever in your house.” 

Do yoga, stretch, take a walk, get outside — all of these things can help relieve added stress at holiday time, advises one expert.

Do yoga, stretch, take a walk, get outside — all of these things can help relieve added stress at holiday time, advises one expert.
(iStock)

Those who feel stressed, she added, should “consider taking a walk, writing in a journal, spending time in nature or calling a trusted friend instead of turning to alcohol because alcohol is a depressant.”

Advised Boucher, “I say alcohol tends to sneak up on people and grab them by the throat before they realized what hit them.”

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She said she’s worked with many women and men on this issue over the years. “The disease shows up the same whether you’re male or female, it really doesn’t matter.”

Pray and trust God

Pray and trust the Almighty with the details, Boucher said.

“God uses us every day. But if we’re so in our own heads and licking our own wounds, we miss it.”

“We can all use prayer in our lives,” she said, “instead of micromanaging every aspect of our lives and other people’s lives that we have no business managing.”

Boucher suggested finding a passage of Scripture to help build faith during the holiday season and all throughout the year.

"If we allow God into our lives, give him the reins — he does have a plan for all of us," said Boucher. 

"If we allow God into our lives, give him the reins — he does have a plan for all of us," said Boucher. 
(iStock)

She referenced Jeremiah 29:11. The Scripture reads: “I know, the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you, not to harm you, plans to give you a hope, and a future.”

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Said Boucher, “We’re all on a journey. And sometimes when the journey looks dark, and you don’t know where you’re going, if we allow God into our lives, give him the reins — he does have a plan for all of us,” she said. 

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She also said, “God uses us every day. But if we’re so in our own heads and licking our own wounds, we miss it. These are lasting tools that you can use for any given situation.”

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