Whether you and your friends and family celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, or all three, the holidays can be times of difficult stress and depression. This is the reason The Center for Natural and Integrative Health is bringing you a Survivor’s Field Guide of Tips to beat holiday stress in the next two blogs.
In addition to all the normal stress of working a job and nurturing a family, you are over-loaded with the stress of family events, parties, shopping, cleaning, entertaining and fighting the holiday traffic. We hope the little holiday anti-stress tips will help you to cope with the demands of this time of year.
Three Top Survivor’s Tips
One of the key strategies to managing holiday stress is to prevent it before it becomes all-consuming. Once the stress has built up, you can be very frustrated trying to use damage control. However, if you work at preventing stress and depression, in the first place, you have a better chance at holiday survival.
This is an especially important strategy if you already know the holidays have brought you tension and sadness in previous years.
With this strategy in place, let’s look at some hints that might bring you enjoyment instead of pain with the holidays. In fact, the American Psychological Association (APA) found that “nearly half of all women in the United States experience heightened stress during the holidays, which puts their health at risk. The APA also learned that during this time, 41 percent of women use food and 28 percent use alcohol,” to ease stress.
1. Time Management Is the Survivor’s Friend:
Making a calendar in which you designate certain days and times for visits with friends, for shopping, cooking and special activities will help you avoid the kind of jumbled last-minute rush that jangles anyone’s sanity. Likewise, looking at a plan will help you cope by avoiding over-scheduling your hours.
2. Take Some “Me” Time:
The Mayo Clinic suggests “Take a breather. Make some time for yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do.”
The amazing part of this tip is that choices for what you do with “your” 15 minutes are different and unique to each person. You must find a special activity that reduces your stress; you need only 15 minutes a day for it. Here are some of the suggestions that have worked for our patients:
a. Yoga and Breathing Exercises might restore your sense of balance. If weather is forbidding, then perhaps your stationary bicycle or treadmill can be placed by a window.
b. Take a walk and star-gaze to relax your mind. (This only works if you concentrate on the stars, not your worries.)
c. Turn on music that soothes and relaxes you.
d. Enjoy a massage.
e. Set aside this time to read a special book.
3. Don’t Be Overwhelmed By Temptations:
By this we mean that, if you have worked hard to cultivate good eating habits, avoid being pressured into giving them up. If you give up on dieting or drink excessive alcohol or lapse back into smoking, these actions will only lead to guilt. Guilt is the first stepping stone to stress and depression. Here’s our primer for a healthy holiday in spite of peer pressure:
a. Eat a light meal before going to that holiday party. This helps you avoid sweets, cheese and sugar of all kinds.
b. Get your sleep. Do not steal time for holiday projects by changing your sleeping hours. You know the amount of rest your body needs to feel well.
c. Do not abandon your physical routine. If you normally take a walk or do a selection of exercises, or other physical activity, maintain it.
We will be bringing you three more great stress reducers for the holidays next week. A recent report in Psychology Today stated, “Unless you lean on effective relaxation and self-love techniques, as well as positive self-talk, all your worries may trigger overeating or binge eating, overloading on alcohol, arguments with your loved ones, skipping regular exercises, not getting enough sleep and neglecting your needs.” At the Center for Natural and Integrative Medicine, we believe a healthy lifestyle is the best gift you can give to yourself. Find out more about the effects of holiday stress at this online source.
With our Holiday Stress Survivor’s Guide, we think you might even enjoy, rather than just survive, the holiday preparations as well as the holidays!
Find more information about holiday stress busters at this helpful online resource.
Thank you for reading our blog this week, and we hope you will return for part II next week!