Managing stress this holiday season

Beautiful happy family decorating the christmas tree at home

The holiday season ushers in feelings of joy and peace as we spend time with friends and family and reflect on the past year.  However, the holidays also bring an element of stress that can adversely affect our health.  If not controlled, stress can lead to cardiovascular disease such as high blood pressure or increased risk of stroke.  Stress can also weaken your immune system, making you more prone to infection or succumbing to viruses like the cold or Flu.    

Here are some tips to keep you healthy and stress-free this season.

Keep your commitments and spending in check – Know your limitations, both in time and in money.  Make a list of gifts to buy and stick with it!  Try buying small, store-bought gifts or better yet, have your child write a personal card instead of making homemade gifts for every teacher.  Limit the number of parties and events you attend.  Pick one or two events that you and your family truly enjoy the most and skip the others.

Set realistic expectations for family gatherings –  Make travel plans well in advance, and let your family know of your plans. The sooner they know whether you are visiting, the easier it will be for them to adjust their expectations.. Realize that you cannot be everywhere this season, try spending one holiday with one set of in-laws and the next holiday with the other.  

Get support from family and friends. – Realize you cannot do it all, and ask for help.  Divy up the shopping list between you and your partner.  If you are hosting the holiday meal, have others bring a side dish or dessert.  Use online signup services to help delegate items to bring to the next feast.   

Keep a relaxed and positive outlook. – Take a short time-out for yourself.  Read a book, get a massage, or relax in a hot bath.  Mediation and deep-breathing exercises are also quick ways to center yourself when you only have a few minutes in the day.   Taking a moment for yourself will help recharge you and have you ready to tackle those family get-togethers.

Make sure to get proper sleep – Sleep is a key component to your overall well-being and health.  Lack of quality sleep can affect your judgment, mood, and can increase the risk of accidents and injury. Over the long term, chronic sleep issues may lead to more serious health problems including obesity, diabetes,  and cardiovascular disease.  Try going to bed and waking up at the same time, and limit your alcohol consumption to get better sleep.