By Shana Fischer
The holidays are a time for traditions and bringing family and friends together. But, they can also bring unwanted guests—no not your in-laws— we’re talking stress and depression.
The fantasy of a picture perfect, gently-falling snow, and holiday music quietly playing the background while you open beautifully-wrapped gifts is just that… a fantasy. Perish the thought, and fast because it can wind up hurting your health. Psychologists say we tend to put a lot of pressure on ourselves and family to create a perfect holiday and not only is it unattainable, it’s unnecessary. Stress can cause high blood pressure and even heart attacks or strokes. It can also weaken your immune system which can lead to the cold or flu.
So how do you stop stress from becoming the Grinch that steals your holiday?
Start by acknowledging how you are feeling.
The holidays can mean trips to see family but if that’s not financially feasible or it’s your significant other’s turn to pick the destination, it can leave you feeling sad. It’s normal. Let your feelings be known in a constructive way. Don’t shout or whine about the plans, instead let yourself cry and share with your loved one that while you are happy to spend the holidays together, you miss your family too.
In this day of Social Media overload, it’s easy to feel like you aren’t keeping up with the Joneses. But, guess what? They don’t exist. Everyone is struggling this time of year. That holiday photo your BFF took of her family, all smiles and well-behaved, probably took two hours and loads of bribes. Instead of focusing on all of the “wish we were” or “wouldn’t it be great if”, focus on what’s in front of you. Traditions don’t have to be elaborate, they just have to be yours.
Stick to a budget.
Most couples argue over money. Do not go overboard and go into debt. It is not worth it. Let’s say you rack up a $1,000 on your credit card. The APR is roughly 17% and you make a monthly payment of $60. It would take you nearly two years to pay it off , not to mention all of the interest you will pay as well. Setting a budget allows you to control your finances for the future and also puts the emphasis back on the true meaning of this time of year—family and friends.
You find yourself staring at 10 party invitations not to mention office parties and family gatherings. It’s enough to leave you screaming “bah hum-bug”. Learn to say no politely but firmly. Pick one or two parties you really want to attend and let others know that while you love celebrating you don’t want to overcommit. You can send those folks a lovely hostess gift or card if you wish. Don’t go overboard with your excuses. Your time is like money in a bank account. You only have so much, so choose how you spend it wisely.
Keep up healthy habits.
Make sure you are getting enough sleep and eating healthy. Keep cut-up veggies in the fridge along with some hummus or greek-yogurt dip for a boost of protein. Limit alcohol intake. Try meditation or yoga. Even 15 minutes a day of silence will help center you. Wash your hands frequently to keep germs at bay. And, indulge in a massage. Even better, treat you and your honey to a couples’ massage.
Finally, just slow down and enjoy the moment.
Once a day, take a look around and be sure to practice gratitude. It’s easy to get caught up in life’s little and big stresses. We can lose sight of what’s important and what brings us joy. Try lighting a candle, grabbing a book or magazine and just relax. You’ve earned it.
If you want more information on how to keep holiday stress at bay, be sure to watch “Your Health” on YurView Arizona on Cox 7.
Watch the full episode of Your Health here: