SIOUX FALLS, SD -
From Black Friday, to the last minute shopping still ahead, the holidays can stress out nearly everyone. That's why shoppers such as Sandy Kuepfer put some thought behind their shopping strategies.
"Creative, yeah, find the times when the husband and kids are not around that I can do some shopping," Kuepfer said.
Kuepfer admits that shopping in crowds is not her thing and she knows the holidays can quickly become overwhelming. So what is the secret to making it through the holiday season? Experts say to stay calm, cool and collected.
"Composure can be done because it is a choice," Karla Harmon with Sanford Health said.
Harmon says with planning, the holidays are much less stressful. That's exactly what Kuepfer does.
"Do shopping in chunks and even putting Christmas cards together, not trying to do it all in one day, address a few at a time and when there are quiet moments," Kuepfer said.
"As you go into a store, it is good to take a breath. Focus yourself, determine what it is you're going to do and enjoy yourself," Harmon said.
Harmon adds that one of the biggest stresses this time of year is finances. To avoid ruining the fun of the season, she suggests setting a budget early and sticking to it for the entire season.
"People who plan budgets and figure out how much money they want to spend tend to feel a little bit more in control of their holiday spending and their holiday," Harmon said.
Harmon says that when it comes to holiday stress, remember we're all in this together. For example, the Target store we visited added nearly 70 employees for the holiday season and they're putting in long hours. So, simple gestures to random strangers can turn the season around.
"Opening the door for other people, helping other folks out makes you feel good and it's contagious," Harmon said.
And finally, Harmon says you have to remember you're human and just one person. No matter how many things you're invited to, or want to attend, saying "no" is always an option.
"Making choices during this time of the year is real important. What's important and what isn't important. It's good to remember that if everything is special then nothing is special. Define how you want the holidays to look. What is important, what isn't," Harmon said.
And that's how Kuepfer survives.
"I really try to pick out the things that are most important and the things that are most meaningful to our family," Kuepfer said.
And with those things in mind, you can turn your holiday mood from "bah humbug" to "ho ho hooray!"
"Anytime you have a big holiday time, it is good to think of it as endurance rather than a sprint. So you train yourself, get yourself into a very relaxed kind of setting then the rest will come a little bit easier," Harmon said.
Experts also suggest not buying into the notion that if some is good, more is better. In other words, know your limits and don't over extend yourself.
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