Tuesday, Dec 2, 2014
Increased levels of stress and depression are common during the holidays, and that mile-long to-do list (not to mention gift list) can leave people feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and anything but cheerful. The good news is there are several ways to effectively combat stress, manage the pressures and demands, and still enjoy yourself amidst the chaos of the holiday season.
People often feel unnecessary pressure to create a flawless, picture-perfect holiday. Between trying to buy every gift on every wish list, decorating the perfect tree, and preparing a delectable feast with all the trimmings, it’s no wonder you may feel burned out before the holidays even begin. Set realistic expectations so you won’t be disappointed when family drama unfolds, the cat knocks over the tree, or the turkey turns out too dry.
Plan your schedule of holiday cooking, hosting parties, traveling, and spending time with loved ones to include a little breathing room so you don’t feel as overloaded with things to do and places to be. Rather than feeling burdened with too much on your plate, focus your energy on enjoying the people and activities you really care about – you’ll appreciate them much more.
It’s no surprise that the holidays are often a time of overindulgence when it comes to eating and drinking. Properly fueling your body is always important regardless of the occasion or time of year! Be sure to fill your plate with fruits and veggies first and go easy on the desserts. You’ll have more energy and feel better overall by avoiding fatty and sugary foods that will only cause guilt and weight gain.
Sweat it out.
Exercise releases chemicals in the body called endorphins that promote feelings of happiness and positivity and help to reduce stress. Get your heart rate up by going for a walk, jogging, or doing yoga exercises. Being active will help increase your energy and improve your overall mood.
Practicing meditation and mindful breathing techniques can help relax your body and mind and melt away stress. To relieve tension, close your eyes and take deep breaths while trying to completely relax each individual muscle group one at a time, starting with your head and neck and working all the way down to your toes.
Take time for yourself.
Though you may constantly be surrounded by family and friends, make it a priority to have some quality “you” time. Curl up with a book, get a massage, or take a long bubble bath. These quiet moments can help provide clarity and allow you to regain a sense of calm and peacefulness.
Sometimes the best way to alleviate stress during the holidays is to remember the reason for the season and support a charitable cause. Serve food at a homeless shelter, volunteer at a nursing home, or deliver gifts to children in the hospital. Doing something nice for others is inherently rewarding and can be a reminder to be thankful – not stressed!
If you experience prolonged stress, anxiety or depression and need professional help to manage it, a Harbin Clinic primary care physician or specialist can help. Call 888.427.2461 for more information or to set up an appointment.
Dr. Amar Singh is chairman of Harbin Clinic’s Internal Medicine department and Primary Care division. He also serves as Medical Director of the Harbin Clinic Wellness Program.
*This article appeared in the 2014 holiday issue of NW Georgia Living Magazine.