By William Epperly, MD, FAAFP of Forum Health Bloomingdale
De-stress during the holiday craziness
Around the holidays, the hustle and bustle of the season can turn a season of peace and joy into a time of wanting to pull your hair out!
But over the years, I have accumulated a list of action steps a person can take to reduce the stress and the effects of stress in their lives. And this is probably a good time to remind people of some of them. So here’s my Top 40 list of the best stress reducers just in time for the holidays!
• Have a quiet time every day early in the morning to read, meditate, or pray.
• Take breaks more often than you do now.
• Go for a nice relaxing or a brisk walk.
• Take a deep breath before reacting negatively to someone or something.
• Listen to great music.
• Be sure to laugh as much as possible, including at yourself. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
• Decide to be cheerful.
• Wish good will to people you meet (even if you don’t feel like it).
• Exercise at least three times a week doing something you enjoy at least a little.
• Sleep seven to nine hours a night.
• Have a hobby. Do something you enjoy other than work.
• Seek the help and advice of others whom you trust.
• Make a conscious effort to think and act like the person you want to be.
• Thoughts and attitudes lead to actions, but also actions lead to thoughts and attitudes.
• Admit your anger or frustration. Take responsibility for your feelings.
• Establish and remind yourself of your priorities and the BIG PICTURE.
• Remind yourself that a year from now, most of the things upsetting you now will probably not even matter.
• Spend time reading interesting or fun books, conversing, watching programs that lift your spirit.
• Allow extra time for the unexpected. Give yourself more MARGIN.
• Become aware of tense muscles and relax them. Better yet, go get a massage.
• Put regularity into your life; set time for meals, religious practices, and recreation.
• Make a realistic list of tasks to accomplish each day, and celebrate your successes when you accomplish them.
• Do not overload your schedule. Learn to say “no”.
• Listen quietly for people to finish their sentences.
• Talk to your friends and relatives. Keep in touch.
• Get up 15 minutes earlier than you think you need to.
• Prepare for the morning the night before.
• Don’t rely on your memory. Write it down in a planner.
• Ask someone to be your “vent partner”.
• Simplify meal times.
• Remember you always have options/choices.
• Pet a friendly dog or cat.
• Look for the silver lining in the dark clouds.
• Know your limitations and don’t be afraid to let others know them, too.
• Write a note of love and encouragement to a far away friend.
• Remember that stress is an attitude.
• Quit trying to “fix’ other people. Instead focus on being the best person YOU can be.
• For perspective, remember that your whole life is just a blip on the screen of eternity.
• Take specific action steps to change or solve what you actually have control over.
• Let go of the things you DON’T have control over. Sometimes you just have to let go and let God.
Start practicing a few of these, make them habits, and you will be making serious progress in one of the biggest areas of Lifestyle Medicine – stress management. Hope you have a blessed, and not a stressed, holiday season!