The holiday season is well underway, and for most Americans that means elevated stress, and with increased stress can come sickness, fatigue and depression. Fight the holiday slump this year with these tips for self-care this season.
There are many reasons people feel more stressed and blue during the holidays. There are more activities, pressure to meet families’ expectations, reminders of friends and family you may have lost, and shorter, darker days can exacerbate it all.
That’s why it’s increasingly important for everyone to take time for themselves to make sure they can truly enjoy the festive season. Try just one of these activities this year to see if it helps improve your mood and enjoyment of the season.
- Keep your exercise routine – With a busier schedule, for most people one of the first things to go is their typical exercise routine. But with all the added activity and dietary indulgences, exercise becomes that much more important as a way to destress and burn off excess calories.
- Protect your sleep – Just like exercise, sleep tends to be something we sacrifice during the holidays, but sleep helps your body recover and keeps your mood up. It’s difficult to enjoy family and friends’ delightful little quirks when you’re exhausted from the activities of the week.
- Throw out expectations – There’s a lot of pressure at this time of year to create and capture “magical moments” to make a perfect holiday experience. Unburden yourself from these expectations, and you will have an easier time enjoying the moments for what they are.
- Feel (don’t eat or drink) your feelings – The holidays inevitably bring up strong emotions, including anxiety about new relationships, reminders of family losses or pressure of entertaining relatives. In all of these instances, the instinct can be to eat or drink more than usual. This year try to remind yourself that all of this is normal and try to live in the discomfort of the moment, rather than run from it.
- Keeps snacks and water with you – This may not be something you do the rest of the year, but in all the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping, holiday parties and end-of-the-year work expectations you may find yourself out and about having forgotten to hydrate or eat. Keep a high-protein snack in your car or bag as well as a water bottle at the ready to avoid this.
The most important advice for this time of year is really just to give yourself a break. Don’t have enough time to make cookies from scratch? Get some from the store. Too tired to go to a third family holiday dinner? Send your regrets and relax. Caught up worrying if people are having fun at your party? Assume they are and catch up with a friend or family member instead.
All of these are hard to put into practice, but you’ll be thanking yourself come January if you’ve been able to find the joy in the holiday season.
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