Do you love it, hate it or just tolerate it? I’m talking about the Holiday Season. However you may have answered that question, there is one thing that goes with the holidays for virtually everyone: holiday stress. Some thrive on it, others take months to recover from it.
Below are 10 strategies to help mitigate the mental, emotional and physical damages that come with the season. Try to put at least 6 of them into practice and you can celebrate the New Year with health and happiness!
- Take time for yourself. We get so caught up with our To Do List, which typically involves what we want to do for others, we often forget to take care of our own needs. Put time on your calendar for reading, a hot bath or even 20 minutes of meditation.
- Maintain your exercise routine. While it may be difficult to keep up the high intensity regiment of a normal week, keeping the placeholder of that routine is helpful come January. If you normally run, but don’t have time for exercise and a shower before the holiday party, either cut back on the time allotment or go for a walk instead. Even if all you do is change into workout clothes and sit on the weight bench, you are helping to maintain the habit. (And once you get there you might actually lift a weight or two!) It will be so much easier to start back up again if you haven’t neglected your routine altogether.
- Don’t over commit your time. Between work, shopping, holiday parties and events, vacations, travel, family obligations, holiday cards, religious traditions — and the list goes on, it is easy to become overwhelmed with commitments that start before Thanksgiving and carry into the New Year. Make a list of your top priorities and learn to say no to much of what falls below that line.
- Eat consciously. The average American gains several pounds over the holidays. There are many ways to keep the calorie counts down.
- Start every day with a nutritious breakfast. This will reduce the calories consumed during the rest of the day
- Drink a hot cup of herbal tea before meals
- When eating out at a restaurant review the menu online before your go. Choose a healthy meal option; once there don’t open the menu and order first (to avoid temptations); stick with your choice!
- At the holiday meal buffet fill your plate with healthier options first, only place a taste of the cheese mash potatoes on the plate, watch the bread and butter servings and perhaps share a piece of Grandma’s apple pie with a loved one
- Take a walk just before or after the meal
- Pass on the cookies and brownies sent by the well-meaning vendor
- Limit alcohol intake. It’s easy to get caught up in the “spirits” of the season, but they add hundreds of calories, lower our abilities to make healthy choices and can lead to anxiety and even depression, particularly during the holidays. Choose a spritzer with lime instead.
- Focus on the positive. You can choose how you react to people, places and things; for instance, you can be frustrated with crowded malls or you can listen for the sounds of holiday carols, watch people laugh and enjoy the fun of finding “just the right gift” for a loved one.
- Don’t rush! Plan your time so that you aren’t rushing to get everything done or to arrive on time; that will definitely cause the stress to build up. Take deep breaths, slow down and just know it will all be fine when you get there or when it gets done even if not on an arbitrary schedule.
- Look for gifts with meaning. Commercialism can create stress, therefore, finding a gift that your recipient will love will provide you with the joy of giving more than the scarf that is on sale on the end-cap at the mall, unless, of course, you know she will love it!
- The holidays can be a time of grief. Choose to remember lost loved ones with happy memories instead of sadness.
- Be generous of time and spirit. Volunteer to serve meals to the homeless or wrap gifts collected for the children’s hospital; open doors for the elderly or a shopper with loaded arms; allow a driver to move into your lane… Nothing reduces stress like getting out of our own heads and helping others – or just being kind.
About Your Columnist
Susan Doherty is a featured columnist for Women Taking Charge, the official blog of Connected Women of Influence, where she covers how companies can create a culture of health in the workplace along with tips on how busy professional women can stay healthy during hectic times. She shares insights from her long career in the health and wellness industry to offer organizations best practice tips on creating a culture of health in the workplace. Susan is the owner of Action Ergonomics and specializes in risk prevention for workers in the office environment, solving a major barrier to productivity and performance.