Wednesday, November 30, 2016

De-Stressing the Holiday Celebrations: How to enjoy and navigate the Thanksgiving to New Year's Holidays with the least stress

Dr. Joel’s Health and Wellness Catalyst Blog for November

While everyone’s challenges and stresses may differ during the holiday season, the approaches to having the most enjoyment and fun, and the least stress during this time can be priceless.  Between the work that is needed to prepare food and buy presents, and the challenges of potentially difficult family members (perhaps with opposing political views), lots of junk food calling out and/or the stress of ongoing work, home and/or other to do lists, we can often feel overwhelmed.  Drawing on lessons from past experiences and our current resources, as well as planning ahead can make all the difference.

What are your biggest challenges or stressors?

Identifying these at the beginning can be most important.  We also have strengths and weaknesses, enjoyable and torturesome tasks to do, and circumstances that push our buttons, so be present to these situations, and see if there are more effective or manageable ways to get them done.  Talk with family members or friends to make decisions that work best for you and your family, and develop a plan that hopefully finds the right balance.

Remember the true meaning of the Holidays?

Thanksgiving just finished – what a great holiday (definitely one of my favorites), and a chance to spend time with family and/or friends to reflect on all that we have to be truly thankful for and/or to be in action or think of others who may not have as much to be thankful for.  It is also a wonderful time to get some needed rest and relaxation, fun, and possibly plan for and prepare for the Holidays in December.  In addition to gratitude, consideration of loving kindness, service, mindfulness and peace for ourselves, our families and our communities, these all can provide the meaning and themes for this time of the year.

Take steps to manage the stress or plan for the framework of steps:

1.     Keep up with regular exercise – even if it is less than usual, do what you can and it will make a difference especially if you can do some others below
2.     Find the right balance that you need of healthy foods and other foods that are not as healthy but may be important for you to enjoy the holidays.  Set guidelines for holiday meals, parties, and foods that are kept at work or at home that might be tempting but also might cause you to feel tired, upset your stomach, give you a headache or just cause you to gain weight
3.     Continue your regular practice of relaxation techniques – mindfulness, meditation, prayer, breathing exercises and other approaches.  Again, even if you are not able to do as much as you usually do, whatever you can do will be helpful and help to balance the stress
4.     Ask for help – who can you go to if you need assistance to get things done
5.     Contact your go to people – who can you go see or call to talk about how you are feeling or the challenges or problems that you are dealing with
6.     Seek assistance or connect with your counselor, psychologist or social worker – this is why you have a practitioner as part of your healthcare team (or if it would be helpful, find someone), since this is also an opportunity to work through relationships or developmental issues that will tend to reappear until we fully address them, find completion and/or find peace with it/them
7.     If you are trying to lose weight, you may want to consider a different goal to maintain your weight during this time and start fresh again after the New Year to lose weight – not necessary for some but very important for others

Other Considerations

1.     Plan some of your favorite rituals to connect with the true meaning and joy of the holiday – this can be so many things from decorating for the holidays, to favorite or funny movies, to cultural activities, to sing-alongs, other musical performances and sporting events
2.     Take breaks or set aside time to do nothing or check in with how everything is going

Have a very Happy and Healthy Holiday Season!!

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