Ask the Docs
Santa’s Not Perfect and Neither Are You
How to Reduce Holiday Stress and Enjoy The Moment
By Heather Loguidice, ARNP
The time between Halloween and New Year’s is my favorite time of the year. I love the decorations, all of the delicious holiday food, the choosing and giving of holiday presents, and gathering with family and friends. With that said, it is also my most stressful time of the year. Much of the stress is self-induced because I am a procrastinator by nature. Yes, I am one of those frantic individuals trying to find the perfect gift two days before Christmas. My goal this year is not to stress out too much during the holiday season. This is my plan.
First, accept the fact that the holidays are going to be stressful and plan ahead. In other words, do not procrastinate. Make lists to keep track of tasks to do, events to attend, gifts to buy, and cards to send. Try to minimize your social events and gift buying. It really is not necessary to buy a gift for “everyone” or attend every event. Prioritize your time so that you can do what is most meaningful to you.
Shop early from catalogs and condense shopping trips as much as possible. Catalog shopping is great because it eliminates crowds and time spent driving. Keep spending within your budget to avoid holiday debt and financial stress. You can show love and caring with any gift that is meaningful and personal. It doesn’t have to cost a lot. Homemade gifts are a great option.
Spending a lot of time with family can also contribute to holiday stress. Family problems don’t go away just because it is a holiday. It is best to avoid bringing up any topics of conflict during holiday gatherings. If needed, stay at a hotel and limit time spent with family and friends. Allow some free time just for yourself and your own significant others. Also, be thankful for your family and friends because some less fortunate people experience isolation and loneliness over the holidays. If you know someone like this, include them in your holiday traditions. You will make their holiday season a lot happier and in return you will get a natural endorphin boost by doing a good deed.
This article would not be complete without the mention of dreaded holiday weight gain. Yes, we all stress about that. No one wants to face Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukah, or any holiday party without being able to enjoy favorite foods. Holidays should not be a time of deprivation. In order to prevent the holiday bulge, you need to start or increase your daily (yes, I said daily- no exceptions) exercise routine a few weeks before the holidays arrive. This way, you can splurge a little during the festivities while keeping your weight within normal range. Exercise is also a great way to reduce stress and increase your energy level. Eat healthy most days of the week. Keep alcohol intake to a minimum. If you choose to have a drink, try having a wine spritzer or vodka and splash of cranberry rather than calorie-laden eggnog, sugary mixed drinks, or beer. Remember, portion control and moderation are the keys to success. Follow this simple advice and weight loss will not have to be one of your New Year’s resolutions.
I think one of the main reasons the holidays have become so stressful is due to the unrealistic expectation that everything has to be perfect. This is the year to let go of perfection. Accept the fact that, despite all of our hard work and planning, things will go wrong. Kids will throw tantrums, Christmas dinner may not come out as perfectly as you hope, you might not get the gift of your dreams. Expect imperfection and you will be happily surprised by how many things turn out great this holiday season.
All of us at Family Medical and Wellness Center wish all of you a healthy, happy holiday season. If you have any questions, please contact us at (561) 721-1953.