Reducing Holiday Stress
The holidays are here and for many of us it is a time of celebration and some sadness. For example, I have a great life, and I miss my deceased parents. They loved the holidays and provided me with my first tastes of Christmas magic. For me, the season accentuates their absence.
Many share bittersweet experiences at the holidays. Perhaps your family is still intact, but your relationship with them is less that you would like. At the holidays, we often remember the better times and regret the situation as it is today. For others, holidays remind us of economic uncertainties. Job security and unemployment are issues that haunt many. For those trying to lose weight or battling an addiction, the holidays can present an especially challenging time. For others, the winter climate in the Northeast can throw us off center. As the daylight hours shorten, seasonal affective disorder brings on moods of sadness even depression.
Here are a few ideas to lighten our experiences at this time of year.
- First, take stock of the situation. What is in your control and what is not? If you get depressed in the cold cloudy days of winter, you can’t change the weather however you could buy a “light box.” Light therapy can help.
- If you’re concerned about your weight or addictions ramping up over the holidays, find a support group or friend with whom you can discuss your concerns. Enroll in a cooking class and learn how to make tasty healthy treats vs. high calorie low nutrient fare.
- As for the family, having realistic expectations of their behavior always helps to keep us grounded during reunions.
- Most importantly, practice self care. If possible, spend time outdoors in nature – in the sunlight would be ideal. Go for walks, exercise, meditate, eat nutrient dense food, and spend time with people who bring joy to your life.
- Laughter is great medicine anytime of the year. And take a few conscious breaths when you are feeling overwhelmed.
- Finally, there is nothing more important for our health than regular periods of rest. Do not short change sleep in order to do more. If you feel tempted to answer some email or watch another TV program at night when you’re exhausted, ask yourself, “how important is it?” Get some rest, go to bed. You’ll wake up with more energy and be happier because you listened to your body and gave it rest.