We often greet the holiday season with an unsettling bundle of emotions: joy, anticipation, tension and dread. It may be the year’s most endearing season – but it’s also a serious stressor, as we strive to meet often unrealistic expectations.
Preparing for the perfect holiday meal or party requires heavy lifting. Pressures mount as we shop, bake, visit and fulfill other holiday obligations.
As the pace accelerates, we find ourselves stalled in traffic and languishing in checkout lines. The clock ticks as our blood pressure rises.
Common side-effects include:
- Muscle and joint pain from holiday tension
- Difficulty sleeping because of worry or excitement
- Eating more and often less-healthy foods that contain more sugar and fats
- Lowered immune systems that make us more susceptible to colds and flu
- Stress-related digestive issues
- Increased anxiety for those who suffer with depression
- Weight gain
Unmanaged stress can lead to serious, even life-threatening diseases, according to Henry Ford Health System.
To help keep the holidays happy and healthy, here are seven easy tips to reduce stress:
Shorten your to-do list. Temper time-consuming shopping trips with quick online shopping for others on your list, and simplify the menus and decorations for holiday parties.
Enjoy healthy prepared foods instead of baking.
Take advantage of free or low-cost gift wrapping offered by stores and online sites.
Learn to say “no” if family or colleagues ask you to join in too many activities or if you’re asked to take on a holiday chore you don’t feel you can complete.
Leave time for yourself. Include on your schedule a half-hour break for taking a walk, listening to your favorite music, reading a book or enjoying your favorite hobby.
Enjoy the day. Remember why you’re doing this. Find time each day to enjoy what you’ve accomplished and to share it with others.
Move more. Remember that increased movement and exercise uplifts your mood and improves health. Dance at those parties or go for a brisk walk to clear your mind.
Best wishes for a happy, low-stress holiday.