It’s the most wonderful time of the year, right? Well at least that’s what they say and for the most part, it is.
For many it means cold weather, food, holiday parties, family – did I mention food? And for others, it means traveling, preparing and sometimes taking on too many tasks at one time, trying to be a people-pleaser.
If you’re not careful, your rush to get everything done can have a damaging toll on your health and well-being. When not addressed, this can be mentally and physically draining for some.
So, because I know there’s certain to be moments where I will want to pull my hair out or seriously contemplate running away (can a 31-year-old still run away?), I turned to Heidi Hepp, MD, who practices Family Medicine at the Banner Health Center located in Loveland, Colorado to provide me find tips to help manage stress and enjoy the holiday season.
- Plan ahead. Mapping out responsibilities and activities ahead of time can help you avoid last minute scrambling. Designate certain days or specific times to complete all of the to-dos on your list. And if necessary, be willing to say no when your schedule is full.
- Don’t fret over tradition. We often try to maintain traditions with the hope of recreating fond memories from previous years. But our lives, families, and circumstances typically change with each year. Pressing to recreate the past or provide others with the perfect holiday experience can trigger stress. Be flexible and open to starting new traditions and creating new memories.
- Maintain healthy habits. It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season and let healthy habits fall by the wayside. Trading healthy choices for overindulgence leads to guilt and even more stress. Enjoy yourself, just not to excess.
- Connect with family and friends (and set aside differences). This time of year can be especially lonely, sad, and anxious for people with strained relationships. Troubled relationships often require time to mend, but the holidays offer an ideal time to put differences aside and initiate the healing process.
- Ask for help. Asking for help from others when you’re overwhelmed is not a sign of weakness; it is simply an honest recognition that you need people in your life – just as they need you. So, ask for help and accept the kindness of others. Sometimes stress can exceed what we are able to manage, even with the support of family and friends. In times like these, reach out to your healthcare provider or a mental health professional. There are numerous professional resources available and there is no need for you to battle stress alone.