Wishing you a Happy, Healthy and Stress Free Holiday Season

December 23, 2015

The winter holiday season brings a lot of rejoicing and a chance to share happy memories with family and friends. However, the desire to make the holidays picture-perfect can also bring some serious stress. Overindulging on holiday treats, racking up miles with far-away family visits and excessive spending on all of those “holiday specials” can make stress very difficult to manage.

Anytime you’re out of your usual routine, you’re at risk of becoming stressed. It’s important to understand that keeping your stress level in check affects not just happiness, but also your health. The Journal of the American Medical Association has linked holiday stress and behavior changes to weakened immune systems and increased risks of heart attacks, digestive disorders, depression, insomnia and autoimmune disease.

The good news is, that even when stress seems to be at its peak, there are still ways to relax and enjoy your holidays. The American Psychological Association offers the following tips to help tame and reduce holiday stress:

  • Take time for yourself and recharge your energy with a long walk, a relaxing bath or a good book.
  • Volunteer and experience the joy of giving to those in need.
  • Forget about making every detail perfect so that you can enjoy and embrace the moments you are experiencing.
  • Determine your budget before you go gift and food shopping. Set realistic expectations with your children’s wish lists.
  • Focus on the core meaning of the season by attending a church service, sharing family memories or pursuing other activities that give you satisfaction.
  • Share your concerns and goals with friends and family to gain their insight and support.

Additionally, the online health information source WebMD suggests that by filling your plate with essential antioxidants your body can fight off the free radicals that slow the immune system. These healthy foods include: beta-carotene (apricots, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, peaches, spinach, etc.), vitamin C (blueberries, broccoli, grapefruit, kiwi, oranges, strawberries, etc.) and vitamin E (nuts and seeds, olive oil, and wheat germ, etc.).

When you talk about rattled holiday nerves and stress with others, you’ll no doubt find a reassuring camaraderie that helps put things in perspective. And, consider professional help if you’re overwhelmed. While other factors might contribute to depression during the holiday season, experts advise that those suffering from debilitating stress or anxiety should talk to a doctor or counselor. Don’t try to wait it out until January hoping you’ll feel better by then.

By understanding what pushes your stress buttons during the holiday season, you can work to reduce or eliminate those factors. And, in doing so, you can create a simpler, sweeter celebration that leaves you feeling refreshed and eager to take on the new year ahead.