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It’s the holiday season! I love almost everything about the year-end holidays—the twinkling lights and colorful decorations, the gatherings of friends, family and coworkers, the lovely music, the delicious foods, the stacks of cards from family and friends—I even enjoy wrapping gifts! But all the holiday hustle and bustle can also be stressful. So here are a few Red Cross tips to help you and your family cope with the heightened anxiety of the season.

How to reduce holiday stress

  • Remember to eat healthy. Try to keep a balanced diet and drink lots of water. Eat lightly in the days before and after a big holiday feast, to keep those holiday pounds at bay.
  • Get plenty of rest. With so much to do, it may be difficult to have enough time to rest or get adequate sleep. Giving your body and mind a break can boost your ability to cope.
  • Set priorities. Tackle that to-do list in small steps. Better yet, strike a few items off your list altogether. A lot of the items that end up on our to-do lists are there because we put them there. It is OK to reassess and trim your list to make it more manageable!
  • Be patient with yourself and those around you. If you are feeling overwhelmed, take a minute or two to regroup. Take a deep breath or two, make yourself a hot cup of tea, and just chill. Remember, ‘t is the season to be jolly, so make that your priority.
  • Stay connected with family and friends. Everyone is in this together—that’s what holidays are all about. So ask for help if you need it and help others if you can. Overwhelming projects can become fun if you share some tasks with loved ones!

Special safety tips for holiday decorating

Here are a few seasonal safety tips for you to remember as you string up lights and gather with family and friends.

  • Choose decorations and artificial trees that are flame resistant or flame retardant.
  • If you prefer getting a real tree, choose a fresh one and secure it in a sturdy stand.
  • Place the tree away from heat sources and exits and water it daily.
  • If you are hanging stockings on the fireplace, do not use the fireplace for fires.
  • Keep children, pets and decorations away from lit candles.
  • Keep matches and lighters up high in a locked cabinet.
  • Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections.
  • Connect no more than three strands of mini light sets and the total number of bulbs to 50.
  • Read manufacturer’s instructions for the number of LED strands to connect. Some strings of lights are only for indoor or outdoor use, but not both.
  • Use clips, not nails, to hang lights so the cords do not get damaged.
  • Keep decorations away from windows and doors.

For more information to keep you healthy and safe this holiday season, go the

Happy Holidays!

Anna Fernández-Gevaert is the regional communications director for the American Red Cross of Idaho and Montana. She can be reached at

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