Do you dream of a Christmas Vacation or 8 Crazy Nights? Holidays can be tough and quite often we feel increased stress between October and March. During this time, we are bombarded with images, songs and busyness of the holidays, along with changes in seasons, can add stress, anxiety, irritability and depression. Below are a few ways to better manage holiday stress and wintry weather Blues.
- Learn what your holiday stressors are. Know your triggers. Is it family get-togethers, parties, gift buying or lack of sleep? Take time to review your calendar and identify the stressors so you can make plans to reduce the impact of holiday stress.
- Limit your expectations of reality. This limits disappointments. Extra work is what we respond to oftentimes with unhealthy habits such as smoking, overeating, alcohol use, feeling distressed, anxiety, poor sleep, mood instability, high blood pressure or upset stomach. Emotional health impacts the physical health!
- Keep up with physical activity. Stay active during the winter months. If you belong to a gym, be sure to take time to visit. If you don’t, walk through the mall or walk outside when weather permits. 20 minutes 3 times per week is recommended.
- Accept the feelings. Whether the feelings are positive or negative, accept and feel what you are feeling. Avoiding is not helpful, but rather causes an increase in anxiety, which can lead to unhealthy coping skills.
- Be mindful of the here and now. Reflection is good for the soul and making plans is good for the moods. Take a step back. Take a breath. Identify what your needs are. Rest when your body is tired. Eat healthily for energy. Remind yourself that it is okay to say no – set limits and boundaries.
- Remember self-care doesn’t have to be a day at the spa! Listen or dance to music, read a magazine, knit, crochet, complete a puzzle, take a hot bubble bath, draw, color or doodle. All of these allow our brains to slow down and rejuvenate us.
- Laughter is the best medicine. Relieve holiday stress by watching a comedy, find some jokes online or call up a friend who always makes you laugh.
If feelings of sadness, depression or irritability occur, seek professional help. Sometimes, brief intervention therapy is best to reduce the stressed feelings and help create plans to avoid feelings of being overwhelmed.
Sheila King-Miller, LCSW, CCTP – Behavioral Health Consultant at Family First Health