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Prescription for stress during the holiday season


If the holidays sometimes leave you feeling overwhelmed and out of control, you’re not alone! Luckily, there is a prescription for stress.

Here are some tips to get through your jam-packed holidays. Get rid of that mean ole' Grinch.

He’s a mean one, alright. If the Grinch has stolen your holiday spirit and good intentions, try some of these tips to reclaim your ho-ho-ho.

  • Plan: “If you’re entertaining friends and family or organizing a work party, it takes upstream work to ensure a smooth event," said Spencer Blackman, a primary care physician at One Medical Group. "Engage your support system and make a plan before things get crazy.”
  • Pass on that extra cocktail: “Extra alcohol can degrade sleep quality and ultimately lead to increased stress levels,” Blackman advised. “Try to stick to one or two drinks per evening or event, and you'll be fine.”
  • Sit still for 10 minutes a day and be aware of your breath: “There is no goal for this practice except to just sit and be,” said Bill Scheinman, a San Francisco-based life coach. “When we try to sit still and be aware of our breathing for even 10 minutes, we become aware of all the things that worry us. By returning to the breath each time we are distracted, we have an anchor for our attention and a refuge from our discomfort. If we can hang out with what worries us without needing to change things, we start to relax and not take things so personally.”
  • Move: “Make it a priority to get out for a walk over lunch or stick to your regular gym schedule no matter what,” Blackman said. “This is when it really counts.”

Remind yourself of what you are grateful for: “Instead of feeling pressure for things you need to do or achieve, gratitude practice can help us relax and realize that there is already so much that is working in our lives,” Scheinman said.

As Blackman pointed out, keep your perspective. There is always something stressful in life and there is always something to appreciate whether it be the fudge your co-worker brought into the office or the quality time off with friends and loved ones.

“Find something you appreciate about the holidays," Blackman said. "And you'll already be ahead of the curve."

Here’s also five tips from the American Heart Association.

  1. Keep up healthy habits: Make a pact with yourself during the holidays. For example: “For the next three weeks I will move more and do something active every day, have a healthy breakfast and limit the sweets, and get at least seven hours of sleep each night.” If you don’t completely give up your healthy habits, you won’t feel like you have to start over once the holidays are in the rear-view.
  2. Beware of party perils: Special holiday events often serve up extra helpings of less-than-healthy foods. If you’re a guest, eat a healthy snack before you go to avoid overdoing it at the event. If you’re the host, challenge yourself to offer some delicious and healthier options using our recipes and cooking tips. Your guests will thank you.
  3. Stay active even in the hustle and bustle of the season: A full holiday social calendar might lead to some missed workouts. Instead of beating yourself up about it, sprinkle some healthy activities into your daily routine. For example, if the weather isn’t too frightful, ride your bike to work or school. If dinner is going to be a feast, opt for a light lunch, then take a vigorous walk. And keep the family moving. When the kids are home from school, squeeze in some active chores and trips to the park.
  4. But not too active: Give yourself the gift of peace. When the invitations pile up, don’t be afraid to say no to some of them. If you need some downtime to recharge for the next big party, declare a me-treat and do something that relaxes you. Try yoga, meditation, or spending time in nature.
  5. Make a plan for the new year: Your poinsettia’s pooped and the gifts are all gone. Now what? It’s a great time to reset for the new year — but don’t go dashing through your to-do list too fast or you might not stick to your plan. Layout realistic, sustainable steps for the months ahead. For example, start a daily walking routine and sign up for your local Heart Walk before you set your sights on that marathon!

If you need to contact Rivendell Behavior Health Services of Arkansas, click here.