Let’s face it: despite the Holidays being the most cheerful time of the year, it’s also the most stressful.
Even people who wish to spend this event alone can still face some form of anxiety. Whether you plan on celebrating by yourself or with someone special, remember that Holiday stress is very REAL. It can start affecting you weeks or days prior to the occasion.
But what happens to people who experience Holiday stress? Will this ruin the merriment for everyone else? Can anything be done to make gatherings happy and healthy again?
No need to be a Grinch at this time of the year. No matter your plans, you can keep yourself sane AND have fun, too. It just takes a little bit of planning and a dash of creativity. Here is a couple of Holiday health tips for your mind, body, and soul – just in time for the most stressful day of the season.
The Dangers of Holiday Stress
Holiday stress can be triggered by several factors which include (but are not limited to) the following:
- Unrealistic expectations. According to Popular Science, Holiday events themselves are NOT stressful. But it is HOW we expect them to be that makes us anxious and exhausted. When things don’t go the way we want them to, it makes us feel frustrated. This in turn, can manifest itself in various ways throughout our body. For instance: if you always have fun family gatherings but this year turns out differently, then it can lead you to experience migraines, stomach upset, or even eating or sleeping disorders.
- Negative individuals. Some people’s negative behaviors (such as passive-aggressive act or extreme sarcasm) can have nasty effects on your overall health. Being around toxic individuals can leave you feeling doubtful, agitated, and exhausted at the end of the day without even knowing why. Whether it’s your relatives, partner, or friends, if meeting them around the Holidays gives you the jitters, it might not be a good sign.
- Lower immunity. It’s the cold and flu season, after all. Plus, with all the drinking and partying, it’s no wonder you’re stressed. For those who are hustling hard, overtime and too many commitments can also lead to fatigue and lowered immunity around this time.
While most folks can’t wait to spend the Holidays with their loved ones, there are those that dread this particular occasion. You might want to sit this one out, if not for the pressure from friends and family. If you must endure some stress around this time, keep these Holiday health tips in mind to help you manage the hassle of days ahead.
Holiday Health Tips for the Mind, Body, and Soul
In one research by the American Psychological Association (APA), most respondents said that their stress levels increase during the Holiday season. This is especially true for people who are worried about being called to work during this time (e.g. healthcare professionals and law enforcement). Aside from worrying about money, people also fret about the lack of time, lack of resources, and the hype surrounding the event.
Got a lot of responsibilities weighing you down? Afraid the boss might call or send an urgent email in the middle of family dinner? Here are a few tips to keep yourself sane:
- IDENTIFY what triggers your stress. Is it waking up to a long list of to-dos? Is it knowing unpleasant relatives would be at your doorstep in a couple of days? Is it the lack of good board game ideas for Christmas Eve? If you know the factors that causes you much distress, it becomes easier to find solutions.
- Remember to BREATHE. When you find yourself about to scream or pull your hair out, pause – inhale and exhale slowly. Count to 10. Many arguments and breakdowns could’ve been prevented if people knew how to push pause.
- PRACTICE Holiday meditation. This helps calm your mind and help strengthen your focus on what really matters.
- LIMIT your to-do list. This might seem simple, but you’ll be surprised at how many things people want to do in a single day. Remember: prioritize. Circle 5-10 things that you know you can accomplish within 24 hours. Then put all your energy and mental focus there.
Of course, you won’t be able to accomplish anything if you lack sleep or you haven’t eaten in hours. Make it a point to take care of your body during this time, too. Here is a couple of Holiday health tips for your physical well-being:
- SCHEDULE regular eating and sleeping times. It may sound odd, but knowing you have a schedule for this makes it less likely for you skip them.
- ENSURE your room is free from distractions. Turn off electronic devices or put them on silent mode. Dim the lights. Fluff your pillows. This is so you can really sleep when you should be. Experts advise 8 hours of sleep. If that’s not possible for you, try to get as much as 6 or 7.
- Don’t forget FIBER in your diet. It’s expected that there’d be lots of cake, wine, and steak. But be sure to sneak in your daily servings of fiber in the form of fruits and vegetables, as well.
Taking care of yourself but still feel like something’s missing? The Holidays isn’t just a time for mass consumption and shopping. If you’re one of the folks who is looking forward to some time spent alone, you can still have fun by feeding your soul. Aside from a good book or movie, try these other suggestions for a more meaningful Holiday celebration:
- If you can still fit it in your schedule, try a bit of VOLUNTEER work. Nothing feeds the soul more than knowing you did your share for a good cause. Find something in your local community. It could be a food drive for the homeless or a neighborhood decorating event.
- DO something different this year. Family dinners getting passé? Why not suggest something out of the ordinary? Invite the family to go skiing. Ask if they would like to spend the Holidays at the beach instead. Or how about a cruise? There are lots of options nowadays – the only limit is your imagination (and budget).
- Don’t forget to TREAT yourself. Even if you didn’t plan the entire family dinner, give yourself a pat on the back. You deserve something nice for just showing up.
If things are really bad and you’re suffering from sleeplessness or severe anxiety due to Holiday stress, perhaps it’s best to opt out. Call ahead and ask them if you could skip this year. If they insist, make sure you have your own form of transportation so you’re not stuck there. This lets you leave should events call for it.
Having a back-up plan is essential during the most joyful – yet most stressful – time of the year. For many, spending time alone for the Holidays is becoming more and more of a welcome tradition. If you’re interested in this form of celebration, be sure you’re not breaking any hearts in the process. Explain why you’d rather be alone on Christmas Eve.
Either way, keep these Holiday health tips just in case. For when you’re happy and healthy, those around you will be, too!