Stress.We all have it and some of us have more of it going on at times. There are some of us who cope with stress better than others. I don’t know if you have ever heard the old saying “some folks make a mountain out of a mole hill”,but there are people who work themselves up into a frenzy about stuff when it doesn’t have to be that way. And there are the downright drama queens and kings out there. With the holidays many of us get less sleep and less exercise. We often eat less healthy and then someone wants to stick us in a room with people who want to push our buttons for a few days and that can be a recipe for disaster. I was real surprised to learn recently that stress related illnesses cost businesses about 300 billion dollars a year which is more than twice as much as the medical costs of obesity which is $147 billion dollars a year. With all of us feeling a little more pinched this time of year, I wanted to share some ideas to help you De-Stress and De-Compress This Holiday Season!
10 Ways to Survive Holiday Stress
Many of us are doing double duty this time of year, buying presents, addressing cards, baking cookies and attending holiday parties. This can all be lots of fun but there needs to be an amount of time carved out to do this. You may find that the things that truly bring you joy that you want to keep doing but some of the others or some of the things that you usually do throughout the year may have to wait and that can be okay. Make a little time for yourself each day and do something for yourself each week that you can look forward to doing. Managing your time wisely just as you would your shopping budget can help you eliminate those time wasters. Learn to say “no” to extra things that you cannot fit into your schedule or don’t want to do.
Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle
Not only do many of us sleep and exercise less and eat more, we often eat more high fat, sugary treats, drink more caffeine and alcohol and that can make us more stressed! One way to cope better with the added stress this time of year is moving your body more when you can and trying to get a little more rest if you are able. A few ways to eat healthier include eating a healthy breakfast, having a high snack in between meals to prevent you from being so hungry and packing a water bottle with you when you go on those holiday errands.Eat mindfully at your meals and snacks.
Relax-Holidays are Suppose to Be Fun
If you are feeling tired and stressed, you are doing it all wrong. What brings joy to your heart this season? Do it! What brings you unnecessary unhappiness? Do less of it. I realize that some unpleasant things, we have to do but can we try to make them a little more fun and festive! Play some music that might make you happy! Drink a low calorie holiday beverage out of a special mug. Put on an elf hat or wear some crazy glasses. Play one of your favorite comedies in the background when you are addressing cards or wrapping presents. You are supposed to be having a good time.
To relax, try a hot bath, some quiet meditation and positive refection. Find a good book to read over the holidays and take a needed escape!
Accept the Things You Can’t Control
For many of us, the things that we can’t do anything about drive us the most crazy. We can’t control if someone yells at us for no reason or if life is unfair. We probably can’t prevent Uncle Joe or Aunt Sadie from drinking too much and being a jerk. But we have control over our behavior and how we deal with it in a healthy way.
Many of us keep things inside and stew. Some of us blow up. Some of us avoid things we should be doing that may not be a wise choice. Calling a friend or a trusted family member and talking can be helpful but remember your friend is not your therapist. We don’t want to always dump on our friends and we need to know when it is time to seek professional help with a therapist, social worker or psychologist for those stressors that we need help working on.
You Don’t Have to Be Perfect to Be Great!
I love to create those perfect packages for people to rip open but sometimes I don’t have time. Many of my gifts travel and I have found over the years that the ribbons fall off and the paper tears so I sweat about this less. That is why they make gift bags. Cookies take time to bake and many of us don’t need all those extra calories so don’t worry if you get that done. I also have some tasty and quick ones here that you can make!
Protect Yourself from the Drama! And Keep the Peace
Sometimes I wonder if some people do things intentional to stress you out or if they are hurting so bad that they don’t mean it. You can avoid some of this negativity by limiting your time with these people and when you find yourself in the same room what kind of things can you do to lessen the stress that they make you feel. This really depends on your family dynamics and the situation. I find that if I bring some knitting or hand sewing, a crossword, magazine or phone this can provide a distraction. I love those new coloring books for grown ups.Taking a needed walk or sitting in another room can help also. You may have some important family business that needs discussed but this time of year when there are so many people who are emotionally charged, this is not the time or place for this conversation.
Let It Go
Just as we should not expect perfection from ourselves, we should not expect it of friends and loved ones. It is healthy to forgive and let go of that built up anger. We can express our feelings positively without lashing out and as I mentioned earlier sometimes it is best just to leave it for another time. We may have to make a few compromises to make things work.
Keep a Can Do Positive Attitude
This can go a long way making our holidays bright. We can’t control other people or situations but we can control how we react to it and our attitude towards the entire holiday season. We can have the determination to overcome and prevent overwhelm by our outlook!
See the Big Picture
Remembering that the holidays are supposed to be a time or joy, peace and love can go a long ways. If you don’t have family or friends to celebrate the season, volunteering and adding joy to other people’s lives can bring joy to your heart. Loving a family member who is often unlovable can make you feel good. Finding what brings you tranquility and spending time doing it can warm your heart. I challenge you to make this season a good one. You can make it or break it.
Stress plays a big part of overeating for many of us. As I registered dietitian nutritionist in Asheville, NC, I work with clients to help them with stress related eating. If you want to work on this challenge, I would love to help you in the new year! You can read more about some of the things that I do here!