Dr. Eva Ritvo | Health | Lifestyle
Tips for Managing Holiday Stress
Holidays can be the most joyful time of the year but also the most stressful. Demands are high and self-care often suffers. Overeating and excess use of alcohol are common. For some, this time of year can be very challenging. Families come together, which can be a blessing as well as an increased cause of stress. For those without a support system, this season maybe depressing as feelings of loneliness can be exacerbated.
Below are some suggestions for dealing with the excess pressure this time of year brings and to help you reclaim the joy of the season.
1. Try Not to Sacrifice Sleep
It’s difficult to enjoy anything when you are tired. Dealing with excess traffic, financial worries and families coming together is stressful enough when you are rested. When you are worn down, tempers can flare more easily and the joy of the season will be missed. It is important to prioritize so you can get the most out of the activities you choose and not try to do everything. I often remind myself that less is more. Perfection doesn’t exist. Cut yourself a bit of slack when it comes to setting the table, writing holiday cards, finding the right gift, looking a certain way for an event and the list goes on.
2. Eat Right
Cakes and other sweets are so easy to overdue this time of year. In small amounts they may increase the enjoyment of the holidays but in excess they can lead to unintended consequences such as difficulty sleeping, weight gain and feeling sluggish. Alcohol in excess can lead to even more significant troubles so if you do drink, make sure it is kept to a minimum so the holidays don’t end up in a blur or worse.
It is ironic that at this joyous time of year, we often are too busy to engage in an activity that is sure to make us happy: exercise. Time may be short but keeping to your work out or walking routine remains as vital as always and maybe more so since stress is higher. When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. Endorphins trigger a positive feeling in the body and interact with the receptors in your brain. If you have guests in town, perhaps they would like to exercise with you or just take a pleasant walk. One simple tip is to park at the far end of the lot and get in extra steps as you complete your holiday shopping.
4. Be Mindful
Manage expectations. It’s easy during the holidays to compare one year to the next and this often leads to disappointment. Trying to shift your perspective to one of gratitude for what you have instead of focusing on what you don’t have. Stay in the present moment and breathe. Holidays are a great time to take a digital detox and personally connect to those around you. Taking breaks from social media, phone and computer time can be refreshing.
Volunteering is rewarding any time of the year and many people enjoy it even more around the holidays. Feeding the homeless, dropping off toys or visiting those in need that might be in a nursing home or hospital can lift our mood and often gives us the perspective we need to be more appreciative of our own lives.
6. Set Aside Time to Relax
As hectic as you may be, it’s important to carve out some downtime. Taking a bath, reading a good book, meditation and yoga are all good ways to counteract the overstimulation we often feel, especially leading up to the holidays.
7. Share Your Feelings.
If you feel joyful and grateful, make sure you express it.
If holidays are a distressing time for you, try to find a support system to share your feelings. Maybe a friend or family member can provide an ear. If that doesn’t feel helpful, perhaps a trained professional would be a better option. It is very common to miss a loved one or loved ones who can’t be with you due to geography or death. It is important to acknowledge these feelings and find a way to honor the person or persons you miss. Lighting a candle, eating their favorite food or attending a religious service may help ease the pain.
8. Take a Break from Work.
The holidays are a unique time of year and a time of bonding, reflection and joy. Make sure you are grabbing as many of those moments as possible as the time will pass fast. Soon we will be off to the races in 2020…and making New Year’s resolutions!
Wishing you all a joyous holiday season.