“During the holidays, people have to deal with not only the stress of everyday lives, but also many additional concerns,” said Clark Lester, MD, a psychiatrist at Baptist Health Corbin. “Many of us don’t realize the physical impact the holidays can have.”
Here are three prominent holiday stressors and solutions to help you cope.
Holiday Stressor #1:
Entertaining Family and Friends
The not-so-jolly side effects: Stress from unrealistic expectations and decreased sleep.
A merry solution: First off, try to lower your expectations. The holidays are about togetherness and fun, not color-coordinated tablescapes.
When it come to dealing with difficult family members, “Remember, the only person you can change is yourself.” Dr. Lester said. Keep a sense of humor about drama that can come with family gatherings, and you won’t be disappointed that things aren’t perfect.
Try to get at least eight hours of sleep a night. Don’t stay up until 2 a.m. preparing a dozen pies when you can buy them premade. Instead of spending hours wrapping presents, use gift bags. And watch your alcohol intake – too much will prevent you from getting good shut-eye.
Holiday Stressor #2:
The not-so-jolly side effects: Prolonged stress from debt can cause your blood pressure and heart rate to rise, increasing your risk of heart problems and stroke.
A merry solution: Try to put money aside throughout the year. Ask friends or family members to do a name draw – instead of buying a gift for everyone, each person chooses a name and buys that person a gift. Also, consider giving gifts of time or service, like a night of baby sitting so your new-parent friend can have a date night.
Holiday Stressor #3:
Overindulging in rich and sugary holiday foods
The not-so-jolly side effects: Extreme blood-sugar fluctuations can lead to irritability, tiredness and even more sugar cravings.
A merry solution: The holidays are infamous as a time when we’re tempted by every treat imaginable – most of them high-fat, high sugar or both. The key here is balance. Indulge in small quantities of the sweet stuff while making sure you’re also getting plenty of fruits and vegetables. Eat small meals throughout the day instead of fewer, larger meals. Incorporate at least 30 minutes a day of physical activity that increases your heart rate. Yes, it counts to walk around the mall at a hurried pace, scouting for gifts.
Like this article? Be sure to stop by the Baptist Health hospital location nearest to you and pick up your Flourish magazine today.