Dec. 1-7, 2000
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What the changing leadership means for the University
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When women get physical, knees take the brunt of it

Q&A - Sheehy shares management goals for the University

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In Memoriam
Advice on surviving the semester's close
Take our Advice ... stress-reduced holidays
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Take Our Advice ...

Stress-reduced holidays for you and yours

The holidays mean many things to many people. We have our family traditions, religious beliefs, favorite foods and our vision for how we want this holiday to be special for everyone. For most people, the holidays bring mixed feelings. We want the warmth and closeness of family and community during this time, and while we might enjoy the food preparation, shopping, wrapping and additional social gatherings, we can also feel very pressured to do everything just right and expect everyone to get along. This pressure can lead to undue stress and disappointment if the expectations we place on ourselves are too high and unrealistic. So how can we set up our holiday plans and expectations to be most successful?

Tips from Dr. Nancy Snyderman at Dr. Koop.com:

Remember your values. The holidays are a time for giving, sharing, caring and being with family and friends. They are not about what you buy, the crystal on your dinner table, which parties you attend, or whether you drown your kids in toys. We all complain about the materialism and commercialism of the season, but many of us pursue it madly anyway. True contentment and satisfaction will not be found neatly wrapped in a present.

Don't be Superman/Superwoman. Set limits for the season in terms of time, spending and activities. You simply cannot do everything or be everywhere at once.

Give yourself time to grieve. Holidays can be painful if you are spending them without a loved one who died during the year. There is no magic formula for relieving the pain of such a loss. It may help somewhat if you designate special time during the holidays to honor and remember the person who died.

Face your feelings about family conflicts. Do not expect family problems to vanish during the holidays. They may actually get worse, precisely because of such unrealistic expectations. This is not a good time to resolve conflicts. Try to focus on the positive and overlook the negative. If the conflict is just unbearable for you, minimize the time you spend at the family gathering. Plan to do something pleasurable to reduce your stress beforehand or afterward.

Acknowledge your expectations. Give serious thought to unrealistic and perhaps subconscious expectations about the way things "should" be and what you "must" do. Setting realistic goals and expectations will help you get more out of life all year round. But it is especially important now, when the stress of trying to create the perfect holidays can really wear you down.

Continue to exercise and eat well. The opportunity and excuses exist for you to slack off on your exercise or good eating habits, but try to keep some of these good habits in place through the holidays. You'll feel better about yourself in the long run and exercise is a great stress-buster anytime.

Take time for yourself. Schedule time for you to do something pleasant and relaxing. Nourish yourself so you can truly give to others during this special time of year and feel good about it.

Going into the holiday season with these ideas and tips foremost in our minds can help us be more thoughtful about how we spend the holidays and ultimately help us enjoy them more.

-- from the Faculty & Employee Assistance Program. As with any time of year, the staff of FEAP are available to meet with you for further assessment, brief counseling, problem-solving and help with referrals. Call 243-2643 for a free and confidential appointment.


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