By Staff of Forum Health Modesto
As much as we cherish the holiday season and all it stands for, it’s often the most stressful time of year for so many. We’ve got relatives visiting for several days or weeks, tons of food to prepare, gifts to find, and of course, the extra family time also often means more friction.
Not to mention that if you have any plans to eat healthy or shed some weight, this is perhaps the toughest test of all – how on Earth are you supposed to savor the holidays without enjoying a few special feasts? Stress is an inevitable part of the holiday equation, but you can still find creative ways to protect your mental health and prevent stress from ruining your plans.
Expand your stress relief toolbox
In the several weeks before the holidays, most of us tend to focus on others: what do you get them for Christmas? What’s your aunt’s favorite Thanksgiving recipe? Any special food requirements to keep in mind for the family lunch?
Those are all important to make your holidays fun and enjoyable but be sure to also focus on your needs. Add a few healthy habits to prevent stress before some common triggers get to you. You can try to set aside several weekly timeslots for working out, walking your dog, writing in your journal, or reading.
Try meditation or breathing exercises in the morning. Different things work for different people, but the more options you have, the easier it becomes to manage and prevent stress.
Plan for a post-holiday detox
Anything to look forward to as the holidays come to a close? Most people dread this period simply because they can’t wait for it to end, without that special something to wrap the season up with. For example, you can plan for a post-holiday detox that will help you stay healthy and recover from any unplanned diet mishaps.
Not just with food! Take your time with every single holiday process. From choosing presents, healthy dessert recipes, planning out your family visits, don’t rush yourself. This is the perfect moment to start planning your holidays well in advance and to prepare yourself.
Learn to say no to events you’re not in the mood for, or extra slices of apple pie if you’d like to take care of your nutrition. Get your gift shopping done a few weeks early – that way you won’t feel as overwhelmed when the holidays actually start, and you’ll have ample time to choose.
Also, set a budgetary limit for presents and you’ll immediately feel relieved simply by knowing how to plan for the entire shopping adventure!
Organize & prioritize
The best way to nip holiday stress in the bud is to stay ahead of the game! If you know based on your previous experiences that there are specific aspects of this season that tend to exhaust you mentally and physically, it’s best to focus on prevention.
If, for example, you have trouble sleeping or getting enough physical activity, you can create a weekly routine that gives you enough time to exercise, plan your meals, and go to bed at the same time. By shifting your routine and plans to focus on your fundamental health needs, you’ll not only feel better, but you’ll also learn to navigate your schedule in such a way to never neglect your wellbeing in favor of holiday chores.
Some stress triggers in life might be unpredictable, but you know what to expect each holiday season. Let this be your simple guide to make the holidays more joy-filled and less stress-riddled, and make sure that you focus on your own needs as much as those of others. Set an example for your loved ones that the holidays don’t have to be so stressful. With a few healthy choices, you can take care of yourself and still be there for your family during this special time of year.