The Holidays rank among the most stressful life events for most people, but many experts say it does not have to be that way. This time of year is different because of the number of expectations we have from ourselves and from others. We have a lot of internal rules about how the Holidays should be and we try and match up those expectations and rules and we sometimes forget we have choices. This year has certainly reminded us we have to focus on what is important and sometimes we have to break those internal rules.

Acute stress is the most common form of stress during the Holidays. It comes from demands and pressures, and many of us know that stress on an individual’s body can cause us it to go into emergency mode otherwise known as fight or flight. Of course, that means our blood is pumping everywhere, our blood pressure is going up, our gastrointestinal track can shut down, our blood sugar can go up, and our breathing becomes shallower. This often means we suffer from headaches and stomach aches, trouble sleeping and perhaps become more prone to getting sick. If it is chronic stress it can lead to anxiety, irritability, depression, lack of energy, muscle tension, weight gain, and a host of other challenges. Typically, the most vulnerable are those who are already living on the edge. With a year like this one, most of us have extra stress in our lives.

So, to combat stress let’s start practicing mindfulness which starts with taking a deep breath before reacting to any situation. As we have heard before it’s basically learning how to stay present in the moment. This also means you need to understand your own triggers and your own limits so as not to find yourself on overload. And again, we know we need to learn how to say no and we need to learn how to pace ourselves. There is no perfect holiday (and especially not this year).

Remember: taking care of your self is not selfish. Here are some recommendations for self-care and for the season:

  • Find some time to do something that you find relaxing and nurturing.
  • Consider making to-do lists.
  • Order gifts online (set those budgets).
  • Get takeout items for meals.
  • Learn to say no.
  • Set realistic expectations.
  • Ask for help (as best you can) given current restrictions.

 

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