The holiday season is joyful, but it is also filled with many stressors. Between family, food, parties, gift buying, and the dark and dreary days, it is easy to become overwhelmed by stress and succumb to depression and anxiety or fall into unhealthy patterns that can lead to an eating disorder or substance abuse.
Learning how to relieve stress in a healthy manner helps you maintain your sanity during this busy time. With these holiday stress management ideas, you can coast through the next few weeks with the ability to actually enjoy the season.
Maintain your Health
When dealing with stress, the last thing you want is to become sick as well. However, stress wears down the body and makes it easy for all the winter germs like the flu to invade your body. In order to both lower stress and boost your immune system, you should incorporate or maintain an exercise regime and eat a healthy diet.
Other helpful tips for boosting your immune system include:
- Make sure you get your vitamins and minerals, especially vitamins C and D and zinc.
- Use probiotics, studies have shown they strengthen your immune system.
- Antioxidants and herbs like Echinacea, black elderberry, olive leaf, and garlic also strengthen your body’s ability to fight against pathogens.
Tips for Eating Healthy
With so many holiday feasts, parties, and special foods, it becomes really hard to maintain a healthy diet during the holiday season. ‘Tis the season for overindulgence, after all. However, there are ways to maintain your healthy diet despite all the temptation to ensure that you do not feel cheated.
- Stock your home pantry and fridge with healthy food so you eat healthy except for during the holiday meals. Bring your lunch to work, too.
- Maintain the mantra that moderation is key. If you want to try everything, just sample one bite instead of the entire serving.
- Eat a healthy snack before the party, fill up more on healthy foods, leaving just a little room for unhealthy indulgences, and only eat until you are full.
- If you are hosting a meal, provide tasty, healthy alternatives to the typical holiday menu.
How to Exercise in the Winter
Exercising is one of the best ways to relieve stress. However, winter is the season with the most excuses to skip a workout. Between parties, short days, and cold weather, exercise can be the last thing on your to do list. Instead of using your mental energy to find excuses to not exercise, use it to find ways to make exercise fun.
- Try a new fitness class, play in a pick-up sports league, join a running club, or grab a partner to keep you accountable and make the experience more fun.
- Schedule a time for exercise on your calendar and make it just as important as the rest of your day.
- Remember that even a short walk provides the recommended 30-minutes a day, five times a week of physical activity. Studies have shown you get the same benefit from three 10-minute walks throughout the day as you can with one 30-minute walk.
No matter how healthy you keep yourself with diet and exercise, you will still most likely find yourself overwhelmed during the holiday season, whether it is your family, traveling, or shopping that causes the tension. There are different techniques you can use to calm yourself down when you feel yourself becoming flustered.
- Deep breathing is a simple way to relax when you feel yourself stressing out. Close your eyes, sit still, and just take deep breaths for a few minutes. As soon as you start to breathe, you will notice some of your anxiety diminishing.
- Meditation is a great way to calm yourself and provide a balanced foundation that prepares you to handle stress better.
- Yoga is a great relaxation technique that provides a mind body connection along with a workout.
- If you need more relaxation, try acupuncture or massage therapy.
Take Time for Yourself
One of the most important actions you can take during the holiday season in order to relieve stress is to take time for yourself. When you make yourself a priority and take time to relax and unwind, you allow your body to get rid of stress. You can do almost anything during this time, as long as it calms you down and makes you happy.
- Take time to pamper yourself, like going to a day spa for a massage, facial, manicure, or other treatments.
- Read a good book or watch your favorite movie.
- Take a nice, warm bath or a steaming shower with essential oils like lavender.
As for Help
If none of these stress relievers work, then do not hesitate to ask for help. If you find you do not have time to complete all your tasks, ask someone to help you with them. Delegation is the key to minimizing your stress while still getting everything completed.
Holiday stress can contribute to serious mental health problems, substance abuse, and eating disorders. If you find yourself unable to handle your stress, then you need to ask for professional assistance. There is no shame in seeking out help so you can regain control over your life. There are plenty of therapeutic programs you can find, whether inpatient or outpatient, to overcome your problems.
Sovereign Health Group provides treatment for mental health disorders, substance abuse, eating disorders, and co-occurring conditions. If you find yourself or a loved one suffering this holiday season, call us at (866) 819-0427 to discuss options.
Blog post by: Marissa Maldonado