By Meghan MacKinnon, BSc, ND
Markham Naturopathic Doctor
Tis’ the season to eat more sweets, drink too much and not get enough sleep. Our free time is mostly consumed by shopping, baking, decorating and entertaining; often stretching our time thin, leaving little for ourselves. If you are like most people this leaves our personal health on hold with plans of “getting back on track in the new year”.
A lot of people already feel stressed with work and home pressures, so when the holiday season arrives this existing low level of stress can easily become magnified. Not surprisingly, research has found that holiday stress has a greater impact on women who have a reputation to take charge of holiday planning, cooking and shopping. Additionally it has been found that during the holidays many people are more likely to have increased sedentary behaviours like watching TV, sleeping, eating and drinking to manage their stress. Unfortunately these behaviours often propagate feelings of stress instead of effectively managing them. Here are some simple tips to help you manage your stress so that it doesn’t impact your health during the holiday season.
1. Plan Ahead: The more you plan ahead, the less last minute pressure you will feel as the holidays approach. Start with a calendar and a check-list of things to do and when they need to be done by.
2. Don’t Abandon Healthy Habits: Now is not the time to completely let loose and wait for the New Year. Keep doing the positive things you’ve been doing to help you manage your health to avoid things getting out of control.
3. Sleep: Avoid staying up late to get things done. If you plan ahead this should allow for the 7-8 hours of sleep that we all need.
4. Let People Help: Remember, you don’t always have to do it all yourself. Recruit family members to help decorate, bake or organize potlucks to spread the work around. Your healthcare providers can also help manage your stress levels when life becomes overwhelming.
5. Have a Hot Bath: This can be one of the best ways to relax after a long day, so be sure to treat yourself!
6. Slow it Down: Chew your food and eat it slowly. Take deep breaths and remember “for fast-acting relief, try slowing down”.
7. Learn How to Say No: This is one of those things that can be a huge struggle for many people, especially around the holidays.
8. Supplement Effectively and Appropriately: If you are looking for ways to help balance your stress, reduce fatigue and improve your mood it is a great idea to seek the help of a professional to discuss how Naturopathic Medicine can help.
It is important to remember that although they can bring stress, the holidays are first and foremost a joyful time that we share with loved ones, but we should not forget our own health and needs during this season. Remember, to take a deep breath and use this as a time to remind yourself that there are people in your life who are worth the hustle and bustle, and people to whom you are worth the same.
American Psychological Association
© 2006 Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, Holiday Stress. December 2006