Stress Busting Strategies for the Holidays and Beyond
The holiday season can be demanding. For anyone experiencing anxiety, depression, sleep problems, or any type of brain injury, the holiday season can be downright overwhelming. For some, these feelings come from the frenzy of shopping, wrapping, addressing holiday cards – to the parties, the baking, and all of the preparations. Holiday stressors can come from other factors such as, financial pressures, family and social commitments, and unrealistic expectations.
Further, for those without family or friends to celebrate with, this time of year can be quite lonely and isolating. Certain people may feel anxious or depressed at this time of year due to seasonal affective disorder (SAD), sometimes referred to as seasonal depression.
Let’s not forgot we are still dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic, on top of cold/flu season…. all of this packed into a short amount of time can leave you feeling tired, drained and overwhelmed affecting your ability to respond rather than react.
Tips for Reducing Holiday Stress
It is important to get 7-8 hours of restorative sleep. Sleep plays an important role in reducing stress. Rising and resting at the same time every day creates routine, an essential component of sleep. Maintaining a sleep schedule calms and restores the body, regulates mood, improves concentration, and so much more.
Read more about Sleep problems on our Sleep Page.
More sugar, alcohol and caffeine are consumed during the holidays. Sugar increases your stress response, especially if you have had some form of brain injury such as a concussion, stroke, or brain surgery. Caffeine can cause changes in blood pressure and stress hormones levels, similar to those produced in chronic stress. Eat Brain Healthy foods to avoid brain fog, sugar crashes, and irritability.
If you need ideas, check Dr. Diane’s Brain Heath Recipes
- Get organized:
Make lists! Whether you are planning your menu or your holiday gift giving list, creating a list will help you stay on track. Organizing, prioritizing and grouping tasks together will minimize the stress of forgotten items and multiple trips to the store or mall.
- Practice Self-Care:
Find a few minutes for yourself. It will go a long way. Exercise, meditate, take a walk, make a phone call to a friend or loved one, take a bath, do whatever feels good to you. Just do it!
- Manage Expectations:
Expectations play a role in the ability to experience joy. Don’t be upset if the holidays don’t look they way they used to or don’t play out the way you envisioned. Keep expectations for the holiday season manageable and reasonable by trying not to make them “the best”, but by finding joy in the moment. Things don’t have to be perfect to be wonderful!
Financial pressure is a leading causes of stress. Creating a reasonable budget and sticking to it will help prevent overspending and keep expectations in check. Creating cherished memories and sharing quality time far outweighs store bought gifts.
- Reach out:
The holiday season can heighten feelings of loneliness in the absence of family or social connections. If you can not be with loved ones, try to connect through FaceTime, Zoom or other video conferencing programs. Consider volunteering at a local food pantry or delivering gifts to children in need. Check with your community for events or opportunities to help others or socialize. On the flip side, reach out to those you know that may be isolated and lonely.
Are you Stressed?
- Read more about Stress and its effects on our Stress Page
- Learn more about Stress Treatments
- Shop our Stress Treatment Products
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