Holidays about embracing those closest to us

Freedom New Mexico

The end-of-the-year holiday season is intended to be a celebratory time, but there are more than 12 days’ worth of issues, situations and pressures that increase stress levels for many people.

Last week, a team of University of Missouri health experts offered some tips for coping with seasonal sourness to help, as they said, “avoid Grinch-like tendencies.” Their tips are based on findings from MU research conducted throughout the year.

Kellie Shuck, adjunct clinical faculty in the MU Sinclair School of Nursing, got right to the point that turns many residents’ internal systems into a pressure cooker.

“Lower your expectations,” she said. “Attempting to achieve the perfect holiday will cause stress and set people up to fail. Remember that nothing is perfect, so embrace what you have.”

Following the “embrace what you have” theme, Clark Peters, assistant professor in the school of Social Work, urged Missourians to “be thankful for your family.”

“Each year, 29,000 foster youths become adults,” he said. “These young people face tremendous challenges in negotiating life on their own, and most spend the holidays without their biological or adoptive families.”

With end-of-year work responsibilities, gift-giving anxiety and the pressures of dealing with an array of family members’ personalities, some feel the need to try to be ElastiGirl from “The Incredibles,” stretching themselves to cover everything.

“Be clear about what you can and cannot do,” said Constance Brooks, adjunct associate professor in the nursing school and instructor in the Master of Public Health Program. “Determine limitations and boundaries, and focus on living one day at a time to simplify your life. Be honest each day with yourself and with others. Then, let go of any emotional attachments to specific outcomes.”

Brooks also provides an unconventional insight into gift-giving, noting that “simple gifts may be the most important gifts we can give.” Her examples:

• Refraining from judging ourselves and others.

• Eliminating sarcasm and anger.

• Refraining from hurtful speech or actions.

“These gifts greatly contribute to healing ourselves and others,” she said.

Quite true — but how do you wrap them?