'Tis the season...the season for lots of food, the season for shopping, the season for baking, the season for socializing and the season for any number of things, including lots of stress. We overspend, overeat, overextend ourselves by overcommitting. Holiday stress can lead to depression, anxiety and unhealthy behaviors.
It's important when in the throes of a stressful situation that you try to step back and regroup. Here are some strategies to get through the next few weeks:
- Not everything that happens during the holidays sparks joy in your life. Allow yourself to feel whatever you're feeling. Perhaps you recently lost someone you love and this is a tough time for you. Give yourself some grace if you are not feeling particularly festive.
- People who are alone often feel a lot more alone during this time of year. If you fall into this category and don't have anyone to spend the holidays with, get involved in church or community events or volunteer at a nursing home or some other facility where people would welcome the company.
- Don't hold yourself and your holiday preparations to some unreasonable and unattainable standard. The important thing is to be present, not to give presents. Don't hold others, like your adult children, to unreasonable expectations either. They may need to spend time with other family members and may not be able to be with you the way they have in the past. Be flexible. There are other ways to stay connected during the holidays if you can't be together in person.
- The stress of the holidays can often make minor grievances seem much bigger than they otherwise would be. Take a step back from addressing the negative situation until after the holiday so that the extra stress doesn't add to the problem.
- Stay within your budget. We often spend way too much money on gifts and food. Figure out what you can comfortably spend and stick to that amount. Instead of buying everyone in your family gifts, you can do what the adults in my family do. We take turns identifying a charity that is meaningful to us and everyone donates to that charity instead of exchanging gifts.
- Set boundaries around your time and your sanity. Limit your exposure to challenging people and situations. You don't have to attend every party, or argument for that matter, you're invited to. Allow yourself some down time and only accept the invitations that feel good to you.
- Make a plan so you aren't left at the last minute scrambling to figure out what to do, cook or buy. Planning can take a lot of the wind out of your stress.
- Maintain your healthy habits. Make sure you keep yourself hydrated, get plenty of sleep, eat a healthy diet and exercise. Practicing self-care every day but especially during a stressful period like the holidays will keep you resilient and healthy.
- Recognize your triggers and do your best to avoid them. If you are triggered when you get hungry, make sure you have healthy snacks handy. If being tired sets you off, get plenty of rest. Take care of you first and foremost. You cannot care for others if you don't take care of yourself.
The holidays don't have to be a time to dread if you are prepared mentally and physically. It might be a busy time in your life every year but with a little perspective, you can enjoy it. I hope you do.
As a health coach, I work with women who are facing serious health challenges like heart disease, metabolic syndrome and diabetes or who have been diagnosed as having a precursor to a serious health issue such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or high blood sugar. I help them make food and lifestyle changes so they can get healthy, live longer and enjoy a fuller, happier, more energetic life. If you would like to have a free consultation about the health challenges you have and the improvements you would like to see in your health, click here to schedule a no strings attached call.