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Be Well

Be Well: Holiday stress getting to you?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013 at 7:35 AM

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MetroHealth Nurse Practitioner Maureen Gallagher Ioannou speaks on stress management.

It's December 17 and we are in the thick of the holiday season. For many of us, it's easy to get stressed out. On a recent evening, ideastream health reporter Sarah Jane Tribble dropped into a class at MetroHealth System's Middleburg Heights location to learn how to manage all the stress that can build up around this time of year. Tribble joins Morning Edition Host Rick Jackson to talk about coping techniques.

Ah, the holidays. This time of year can be one filled with joy and family. And a lot of physical and emotional demands.

For those of us taking a week or two off, there’s a lot to be done at work before we can leave. On the home front, the house may need to be cleaned and readied for visitors, or you’re organizing what to pack for travel. 

There’s the challenge of wrapping up the long holiday to-do lists. Cookies need to be baked. Christmas cards should have been mailed by now. Plus, this week is the deadline for buying presents for all those teachers, bosses and co-workers.

Maureen Gallagher Ioannou, a nurse practitioner at MetroHealth, has advise for all those who might be stressed out or on their way to being overwhelmed:

“You can’t do everything. I think in the past, I’ve tried to do that, you try to get up at like five a.m., Ok, you know, I’m going to do the cookies, I’m going to frost the cupcakes and then I’m going to try to get everything ready. And, you know you realize you can go buy something. I think it’s more important that you, you know, you maybe go to the Christmas concert. You can’t do everything. Try to just figure out what really is important and be happier,” Ioannou said.

In addition to the frantic pace of the holidays, this is also a season when larger life issues can also take a toll, Ioannou said. 

Problems at work, strained family relationships, illness or death of friends or family can also be a factor for a lot of people during the holidays.

Wendell Fellows sat in the front row of a stress workshop held by Ioannou recently and opened up about some of the emotional struggles he faces this holiday season. He said he was there learn coping techniques.

“You know certain people in my family passed away and sick and stuff like that, so it’s kind of like to keep my mind together and stop thinking about them so much,” Fellows said, adding that he was there to learn coping techniques.

First, Ioannou stressed that if you feel really sad, to see a professional. But she also gave some practical advice that works for dealing with that daily overly busy stress as well as the larger life issues that Fellows is juggling.

Do the obvious things, get enough sleep, get enough exercise, make sure you’re prioritizing what’s important and what’s not important. And just try to take one day at a time and everything one step at a time, otherwise, I think it’s very easy to get overwhelmed,” Ioannou said.

Ionnau told Fellows and the others that they needed to listen to the needs of their minds and bodies closely. And she coached them on breathing and offered suggestions like rubbing your temples to relieve pressure in the head and rolling your shoulders to loosen stiff neck muscles.

Fellows said he does the relaxation techniques at home and they do help.

Additional Information

How stressed are you? What can you do?
“Stress Management,” a Power Point by MetroHealth Nurse Practitioner Maureen Gallagher Iannou available here.


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