The holiday season is upon us. Does that statement make you jump for joy or wish you could hide under the covers for the next month or so? Holiday stress is an unwelcome visitor that plagues far too many people each year. By understanding some of the reasons we experience this type of stress and arming ourselves with some tools to minimize it, the holidays can and should be a joyous time of year.
Of course some of the very things that make us enjoy the holiday season also seem to provoke stress. Schedules become busier than normal with holiday parties, shopping and special activities. Hectic schedules often squeeze out normal exercise routines and office parties often make it difficult to stick with a normal healthy eating plan.
Other factors that invariably have an impact on holiday stress levels include the stretched budgets many of us face. Overspending on holiday gifts, food and decorations is common and easy to do. Many people put a lot of pressure on themselves to have the perfect holiday celebration and spend a lot of time and money hoping to achieve perfection. All of these factors can add up to extreme holiday stress.
If you find yourself with a lot on your plate this holiday season, take a moment to recognize if youre experiencing any stress-related symptoms. Fatigue, moodiness, lack of energy or lack of motivation can all be signs that youre experiencing stress. In addition, you may also experience headaches or body aches due to changes in your sleep, exercise and eating routines. Address these stress signals right away so you can regain control and enjoy the holiday season.
Once you have recognized that you are suffering from holiday stress you will be in a much better position to deal with it. The first thing to do is gain control of the situation. You have many choices during each day and how you choose to take on the various tasks at hand will determine the level of stress you will ultimately experience.
One of the most important choices you can make each day is to dedicate some time to yourself. You must decide to take some isolated time to relax. Relaxing means different things to different people so you will need to understand what it means to you. It might mean going for a peaceful walk, reading a book or just sitting still. The actual activity you choose to do is not important but the fact that you take the time to clear your mind and do something enjoyable is the key.
With a clear mind, you will be better focused and ready to do some planning. By taking a few moments to plan both the big-picture events such as holiday dinner party or office gift exchange as well as the individual steps you will need to take each day to accomplish the events, you will be setting yourself up for success and alleviating a lot of stress at the same time. Every evening should have a few minutes set aside for planning the next days tasks. You'll be better able to get a good nights rest which will provide more energy the next day.
Try to stick with your normal exercise and healthy eating routines as much as possible. Of course it will be difficult and you may need to shorten some workouts, but whatever you can do will payoff in terms of increased energy and reduced stress levels. And even though there will be more goodies in the diet, by including as many of the normal healthy foods as possible, you will be able to maintain higher energy levels and feel better.
While holiday stress may always play a role in the holiday season, it doesnt have to be the star. With a little strategic planning, you can spend more of your holiday season enjoying yourself with family and friends and less time stressing over the details.
C. Lynn Beebe
Lynn writes articles on a variety of health and fitness topics and publishes a free e-newsletter every other week. For a limited time, new subscribers will receive a free Holiday Stress report with tips for managing stress levels. For more information, visit www.HealthAndFitnessTools.com