Minimize your stress during the holiday season | Fit Pregnancy

Stop the Madness

Minimize your stress during the holiday season by learning to say no and focusing on what's really important.

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Think outside the "gift box," too. When people ask what you'd like, tell them what you'll be needing most is their help and time--and maybe a freezer full of dinners.

Start early
Get as much holiday preparation as possible done in advance, especially if your baby is due in December. Shopping throughout the year helps you avoid crowds and traffic while taking advantage of sales. Charlene Hoang, a mother of four in Stafford, Va., bought and wrapped all her presents well before Thanksgiving. "In December, all I had to do was put up the crib, clean house, drive around looking at Christmas lights and enjoy my older children's anticipation," she says.

Tend to your body and soul
At home, save yourself work by hosting holiday potlucks. When going to parties, plan ahead for taking care of yourself. Arrange a "let's go" signal with your husband or decide in advance how and when you'll make your exit. Snatch moments alone, especially when you're in a crowd. "Just walking outside, breathing deeply, looking at the sky and checking in with your body every hour or so can prevent tremendous stress from building up," Bennett says.

And remember that any number of studies have shown that giving to others and volunteering for a worthy cause yield substantial physical and emotional benefits for the giver, as well as the recipient. So make a charitable contribution, help out at a shelter, visit a retirement home.

Finally, pregnancy is a creative process that often stimulates spiritual thoughts, even among people who don't consider themselves religious. If you find that the hormones and the holidays are calling you to examine your faith (or lack thereof), take this opportunity to do so. There's no more appropriate time than when you are starting a family.

Find out more
For information on nonmaterial alternatives to the traditional stress-inducing and budget-busting holiday rituals, go to the website of the Center for the New American Dream, www.newdream.org/holiday.

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