Don’t let the holidays get you down. Keeping stress in check is the best way to enjoy the holiday season. Follow these tips to reduce holiday stress.
Get enough sleep. Stick to your normal sleep schedule. Changes in routine can lead to stress and interfere with your ability to cope with stress effectively. Also limit light-emitting devices such as smartphones, tablets, and computers before bed.
Exercise regularly. Keep to your regular exercise plan. Or add simple exercise to help. An easy 30-minute walk can boost mood and reduce stress.
Use your social support network. Seek out friends or family members for companionship. Don’t be afraid to ask for emotional or other support if you need it.
Set priorities. Decide what must get done and what can wait. Make lists to keep track of tasks and events. Say no to new tasks or events if they are putting you into overload. You also don’t have to do everything yourself. Share tasks whenever possible.
Learn to say no. It’s impossible to do everything during the holidays, and saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling overwhelmed. People will understand if you can’t take part in every event or activity. Participate in things that make sense for you and fit your budget and lifestyle.
Be positive. Note what you’ve accomplished at the end of the day, not what you’ve failed to do. Try not to dwell on problems.
Don’t abandon healthy habits. It’s okay to treat yourself during the holiday, but don’t go overboard. Keep treats and alcohol to a minimum. Overindulgence just makes stress worse.
Try relaxation methods. Mindfulness, meditation, yoga, or a massage may help. Or try listening to music or reading a book or magazine. Choose something that clears your mind and brings you an inner calm.
Be realistic. Nothing is perfect, including holidays. Stick to your shopping budget. Don’t overschedule. Try to set aside differences. Your holidays don’t have to be perfect. Holidays are meant to be enjoyed and appreciated. Create the holiday that you want.
Acknowledge your feelings. It’s normal to feel sad or upset at times. And it’s okay to express your feelings.
Take a break. Make time for yourself. Studies show that spending 15 minutes by yourself, without distractions, can refresh you enough to face all the things you need to do.
Seek help. If you’re having difficulty coping with stress, are feeling overwhelmed, or need drugs or alcohol to cope, talk to your primary care provider about a referral to a mental health professional at Weeks. Getting proper care can reduce the effects of stress and keep you healthy.
You may not be able to avoid stressful situations during the holidays. But you can take steps to respond to stress in healthy ways. Enjoy your holidays.
For more information on behavioral health care at Weeks or to make an appointment, please call 603-788-5095.
by Evelyn Robbennolt-Jones, Licensed Clinical Social Worker