Handling Holiday Stress

holiday-stressAs someone with chronic conditions, this time of year can become quite stressful. Sure there is the “normal” stress of gifts, visiting family, and decorating/cooking, etc. – but add to it changing weather, new smells (stores and homes add “holiday” smells and aromatic products), and simply more crowds everywhere – and things get touch-and-go.

How to handle stress for the holidays – my five tips:

Focus on the real meaning of the holiday. Our holidays, with a few exceptions, are not built on commercialization. They are founded on a true reason and generally that is completely aside from the stress. If you ignore the commercialization and focus on the true meaning, there should be minimal cashflow and lots of quality time and emotion. If you have a budget, stick to it – it’s not about money. It’s about the real meaning.

Schedule downtime. With everything else on the calendar, make sure you set aside time for you. And this may mean time to do the normal things, like laundry or it may mean sitting in a quiet spot, meditating, reading, taking a long bath, whatever you need to de-stress for a half hour.

Space out the stressors. If typical holiday craziness makes you crazy, space it out. Go shopping early in the season or shop from home. Meet friends for a breakfast rather than happy hour. Don’t do three meals in a day with friends – schedule time after the holidays to catch up.  Do certain people stress you out? Perhaps you can skip seeing that person or put boundaries or preparations in place. There is no reason to be in the frenzy. Space it out.

Listen to your body. If you are tired, get some rest. If the meal is too much to make, cut some of it out – buy some pre-made. If there is too much to do, delegate. If you are hurt, stop – take care of the pain. If you are stressed, relax. Listen to yourself, acknowledge your emotions. Reach out for help. If you need meds, go see the doctors – don’t wait until it’s far past the right time.

Don’t blow your healthy habits. Whether you are just starting or you’ve been on a good streak, keep to it. Okay, maybe plan some small treats so you don’t feel like you are completely losing out on the special holiday goodies. And rope in your friends and family to help. Ask them to make healthy selections for the food. Bake healthier goodies. Avoid the worst offenders. Take the family out for a walk. If you completely blow the progress you’ve made, you will feel worse and things escalate from there. Be strong. Be realistic. And have a fall back plan.

Do you have secret weapons you use to successfully make it through the holidays without going into a flare? Share with us!



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