Shorter days add to Christmas stress

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - The holidays are supposed to be the happiest time of the year.

But with shorter days, family events, and pressure to buy the perfect Christmas gift, the holidays can be the most stressful time of the year.

Neruropsychologist Dr. Stephen Jordan with Saint Francis Medical Center in Cape Girardeau has these tips on dealing with typical holiday stress.

On dealing with shorter days -- "When it's dark, all of our emotions seem more amplified.  Sometimes it gets so bad, we call it Seasonal Affective Disorder. But I think it affects all of us.  I go to work in the dark, and come home in the dark, and you miss the daylight."

On dealing with family -- "We sometimes try to expect that people are going to act differently than they do every year.  This year it's going to be better.  And sometimes we think that if we act differently, people will behave better.  And often, that doesn't happen."

On preventing stress -- "Whether it's holiday stress or any other type of stress, it's time to set some priorities.  Of the traditions you really enjoy, pick the ones that are most important and simplify them in some way.  If it's financial stress, try to do things a little more cheaply.  Or don't go to as many parties or gatherings."

On physical signs of stress -- "Exhaustion and not sleeping.  Many times we get out of our normal routines during the holidays. It's important when you're feeling stressed to get back to good nutrition and try to maintain your exercise regimen and try to sleep at a regular time.  So I think sleep and exhaustion is number one, number two is irritability or sadness."

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