The holidays are a big part of the fall and winter months. This is often a time to reconnect with family and loved ones, to attend social events, and celebrate your beliefs. Unfortunately, it can also be a time of extra commitments, nonstop activity, and pressure to get it all done. This can result in a lot of stress both mental and physical.
Everyone feels stressed occasionally, but when it continues for a long time or gets overwhelming it can take a real toll on your health. The immune system is particularly sensitive to the effects of stress, which means that ongoing stress can leave you vulnerable to colds, flu, and other illnesses.
The good news is that you can take charge of the stress in your life. One way to do that is to set realistic expectations for the holidays. Spend some time thinking about what’s important to you. Rather than concentrating on making everything “perfect,” try to focus on enjoying yourself whether that means spending time with family, volunteering to help others, or taking a vacation.
Another good strategy is to set boundaries. Don’t take on more than you can handle, say “no” if you have to, and ask for help if you need it.
Other ways to beat stress include:
Eating right: Remember to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and try to keep your intake of sugary holiday treats to a minimum.
Rest: Get plenty of sleep, even if you have a lot to do, to keep your body and mind healthy and energized.
Meditation: Take a few minutes during the day to sit quietly and simply focus on your breathing.
Exercise: Try to work exercise into your schedule. It’s a natural energy and mood booster. Yoga is an excellent choice this time of year.
Talking to someone: Share your thoughts and feelings with a friend or a counselor. Expressing yourself may make you feel better and you might even find solutions to stressful situations.
Vitamins and herbs: Be sure to take a daily multivitamin, and consider taking extra vitamin C to help strengthen your immune system. Herbs such as ginseng can help you adapt to stress and valerian can soothe and calm your mind.
Additional methods include treatments such as acupuncture and massage, which can help relax both mind and body. With a little preparation and adding some new coping strategies, you can make this year’s holiday season happy, healthy and stress-free!