Holiday stress comes in myriad forms. Too much to do, too little time, too many little nagging details that need attending.
“The holiday season can be a time of great joy and excitement but also a time of stress and anxiety,” says Robert. D. Wells, Ph.D., a psychologist with St. Elizabeth Behavioral Health.
So whether you’re stressed because you spent the afternoon circumnavigating the shopping mall looking for a parking spot or spent an entire evening trying to make small talk with your boss at the holiday office party, Wells recommends some basic strategies to help manage the stress and put the “happy” back in your holidays.
- Get some rest. Yes there’s a lot to do, but don’t shortchange yourself on sleep. The average adult needs seven to eight hours a night.
- Don’t over indulge. While spirits may flow freely during the holidays, don’t overdo. Alcohol is a depressant and can interfere with your sleep.
- Stick to a schedule. Our bodies like schedules and the holidays can wreak havoc on them. Try to stick with your routine as much as possible. If you’re an early eater and you know your host won’t serve dinner until eight, enjoy a healthy snack – fruits and vegetables or a small handful of almonds before you go and if you’re an “early to bed” type, don’t feel like you have to stay to the bitter end.
- Get outside. Natural sunlight stimulates the production of serotonin can do wonders for your mood.
- Get moving. You may feel like you’re dragging, but a workout will improve your energy level and exercise releases feel-good endorphins.
- Stick to your budget. Overextending yourself financially is extremely stressful. Set a budget and stick to it.
- Serenity now. Try a yoga class. Yoga promotes relaxation, improves overall fitness can help reduce risk factors for chronic diseases, such as heart disease and high blood pressure, and may help alleviate conditions such as depression, pain, anxiety and insomnia.
- Forget perfection. So the house is a little cluttered (think of it as well used) and your holiday baking doesn’t look quite like it came from Martha Stewart’s kitchen. Relax. This is not for a grade! Enjoy the season and remember gingerbread men are just as tasty if their buttons are askew.
- Substitute healthy indulgences. If you’re feeling stressed, don’t reach for the ice cream or the eggnog. Take a hot bath, light a scented candle, turn on your favorite music, make a cup of herbal tea, or call an old friend.
- Just say “no.” While invitations may abound, you don’t have to say “yes” to every party and every call for volunteers. Pick and choose your commitments.
“This is your holiday season, so remember what is most important to you, maintain your priorities, keep realistic expectations and take time for you!”