Thursday, December 13, 2012

Ideas for Coping with Holiday Season Stress

While the holiday season can be full of fun, there are also aspects of it that can be extremely stressful. Here it's important to note that not all stress is actually bad - there are both good and bad stressors. However, both types of stress can take a toll on you emotionally and physically, so it's important to have some ideas about how to make sure you are able to relax during the holidays.

Here are a few tips for some of the more common stressful situations:

  • Grief and sadness - Holidays can be especially hard if you have recently lost someone, but even if the loss was not recent it can still cause feelings of sadness and grief. It's important to recognize those feelings and take time to express them. Make use of your support system during these times, or consider contacting a professional counselor, who can help you find productive ways to work through your emotions.
  • Interpersonal relationships - It can be difficult to juggle all of the demands on our time and attention over the holidays! It's important, though, to learn to carefully and realistically assess your situation, and to learn to say "no" when that is what best fits your needs. If you will be around others with whom you typically have differences, try to have a plan for how to avoid conflict, if possible. Also, plan ahead to schedule in time for yourself - even if it's only a few minutes alone! - so that you can regroup and refresh. 
  • Money and societal ideals - Commercialism is rampant during this time of year, and it can be easy to feel especially stressed if you are on a tight budget. Create a list and decide how much you can afford to spend before you go out and shop, and then stick to it! Remember that many of the idealized versions of the holiday that we see in the media are truly unrealistic. Dig down to what you and your family consider to be the true meaning of the season and focus on celebrating in your own way. This is how traditions get started! 
For more tips on how to beat stress this season, check out these helpful articles: 
Do you have any tips you can share on how you beat holiday stress? We would love to hear your comments!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Staying Healthy Over the Holidays

With the turning of the calendar to December, winter will be upon us before we know it! Here are a few tips from the CDC on how to stay healthy over the holidays:

  • Wash your hands often - Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis is credited with discovering in the late 1840's that hand washing saves lives. We now know that a truly thorough hand washing actually takes at least 20 seconds. (Time yourself the next time you wash your hands and see how long 20 seconds is - you may be surprised!) Be sure to use warm water and to scrub the surface of your hands well. You may also want to carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer with you for when washing your hands is not an option.
  • Cover your mouth and nose if you sneeze or cough - Try not to spread any extra germs around, if possible. While instinct may prod you to use your hand as a cover, it is actually more healthy to use a tissue, or even the crook of your elbow. If you can keep from touching your face with your hands, it will provide additional protection from germs. 
  • Stay warm - While being in the cold itself is not going to necessarily make you sick, it does take more effort for your body to keep warm. This additional effort can divert energy your body would normally use to fend off germs - making you more likely to become ill. Hypothermia can also be a concern during the coldest months of the year, and is a special risk for the elderly and children. 
  • Manage your stress level - The holidays are one of the most stressful times of year! Try to take some extra time for yourself to relax and get plenty of sleep. Additionally, remember that overspending can be a big contributor to your stress level, so create a reasonable budget for your holiday spending.
  • Travel safely - The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that in December 2010, almost 3,000 people died in car crashes and 30% of these involved a driver under the influence of alcohol. Buckle up when you are on the road and don't drink and drive! The holidays are a prime time for parties, so be sure to plan ahead for a designated driver before you head out to that gathering.
For more information on how to stay healthy this winter, check out these helpful links:
Do you have any winter health tips that you can share? Please feel free to give us more ideas in the comments area!