By Nicholas Arsenault
Transitional Care Nurse, Hartford HealthCare at Home
For many, the holidays are a time of togetherness, giving and being around those we love and cherish the most. But sometimes the holidays can bring about feelings that limit how much you enjoy this time of year.
Stress and depression can cause your holidays to be less enjoyable and hurt your health. To ward off stress and depression, Hartford HealthCare at Home and Hartford HealthCare Center for Healthy Aging have tips to help you cope with some of the challenges you may face – they may help you find peace of mind and solace in an otherwise stressful time.
- Check your expectations. Things may not go as planned or how they were in the past. Remember that everything does not need to be perfect and try to not focus on things you cannot control.
- Don’t do too much! Doing too many things can lead to increased fatigue and taking on too many tasks can lower your spirits. Learn to say no and to delegate tasks to others – it will give you more time to be in the moment.
- Acknowledge your feelings and allow yourself to grieve. The holidays can be challenging when you have lost someone you love either recently or in the past. It’s OK to feel sad and take time to cry over your losses. If you are not able to be with loved ones, make plans to get together and celebrate at a different date. Most importantly – take time for yourself!
- Watch your diet and exercise! Resist the urge to overindulge as this can lead to feelings of stress and guilt. Have a healthy snack before parties so that you don’t go overboard on sweets and drinks, and limit your calorie intake. Get plenty of sleep and take time to incorporate regular physical activity – a walk outside can do wonders with fresh air, feel the warm sunshine, and lift your spirits overall!
- Learn forgiveness and acceptance. You may have a relative or two who have made you feel bad in the past. Chances are that may not change – you can’t change others. You can change how you respond and react to situations. If you know what you are getting into, it will be easier to not let them push your buttons. If things become too uncomfortable, go to a movie, go for a drive, or go for a walk to clear your mind and adjust your own attitude.
- Seek professional help if you need it. Sometimes, despite all your best attempts to avoid stress and depression, you may find yourself still feeling persistently sad, anxious, feeling physical symptoms, losing sleep, and unable to get past certain feelings you have. If these feelings continue, do not be afraid to talk with your health care provider and seek help – we all need a helping hand from time to time and that is ok!
- The holidays are a busy time that can bring many mixed emotions. Don’t let them get in the way of enjoying yourself and doing the things you want. Listen to yourself and how you are feeling and find joy in the simple things. You are the one person in control of your ultimate happiness.
References: www.mayoclinic.org and www.psychologytoday.com.