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Holiday 4-1-1: Avoiding Holiday 9-1-1
GREENEVILLE, TN – It’s the topic of conversation about everywhere you go. Holiday stress.

   The parties, performances, shopping, and visits with family and friends only add to our already overwhelmed schedules and can lead to holiday depression, burnout and fatigue, according to Rhonda Malina, director of Takoma Outpatient Behavioral Services.

   “It’s what I like to call Holiday 9-1-1,” Malina, a nurse practitioner, said.

   Malina offers a few tips to help create a less stressful holiday. She calls it her “Holiday 4-1-1.”


·        Turn chores into fun, festive events. For instance, ask one of the children to wrap all the gifts. Have another child fill out the addresses on the holiday cards, etc. 

·        Make a list and check it twice.  It works for Santa, it will work for you. 

·        Map out your trip to the stores before you leave home.  That way you are less likely to forget something or to have to backtrack or make unplanned stops.

·        ‘Tis the season to call ahead.  If men are guilty of refusing to stop and ask directions or hogging the TV remote, women are guilty of running all over town(s) looking for that one particular gift or object.  For instance, a few weeks ago I went to six stores trying to find long-stemmed, dried lavender.  Only on my way home did it occur to me that I could have called ahead and saved myself an entire evening of frustration.


·        Tis the season to KISS!(Remember, “Keep it Simple Stupid”?)  Sometimes pulling out that china and crystal for this occasion can be more trouble than its worth.  If you tend to stress over something getting broken with all the children and activities, be good to yourself and skip it this year.  I usually loathe using paper cups and plates, however, for holiday get togethers they can’t be beat for keeping things simple and giving the host or hostess more time to be with guests.

·        Share your children with others more or less fortunate than yourself.  If you have single, widowed or childless friends or family, let them borrow your children for an evening.  As someone who does not have children, I can tell you that it is a blessing to have my nephews for an evening or a weekend, especially around the holidays.  It gives their parents time to shop, gives them a little breather from the noise and activities, and gives me a chance to re-live a child’s view of Christmas


·        Set a good example.  Focusing on others’ needs instead of our own wants, schedules, and disappointments helps us refocus on the true meaning of Christmas. . .giving, NOT getting.

·        This year, think about taking your family to sing in a nursing home on Christmas Eve or to hand out gifts at the hospital.  Consider adopting a soldier in Iraq and write letters or send goodies to him/her this Christmas.  You can get more information on adopting a soldier by going to your internet browser and entering “adopt a soldier.”

·        Resist the temptation to put on a Martha Stewart-type of holiday.  Relinquish the idea of “The Perfect. . .” anything.  Remind yourself that there is no perfect family or family get-together.  Really enjoy people and getting to know them better.  Rather than trying to be interesting to others, remember it is more important to be interestED IN others.

·        Most people buy, cook and then waste too much food during the holidays.  This year, instead of trying that new recipe on the front of Southern Living Magazine in addition to the turkey and trimmings, cook a big pot of healthy, homemade soup.  Soups like vegetable or chili are nutritious, warm and convenient. Encourage your family and guests to warm up a big bowl in the microwave and serve themselves when they get hungry.  Then invite someone who is usually alone during the holidays to enjoy your meals with you.  Your family and friends will appreciate the speed and ease of which feeding the masses is accomplished and you’ll be free to give more of your stress-free self to others.

   For more information, please call Takoma Outpatient Behavioral Services at 636-0491.