While the holiday season is often depicted as a time of joy, celebration, and togetherness, if you’re not feeling the holiday cheer, you’re not alone. About 41% of Americans surveyed, report feeling an increase in stress this year due to the holidays.
The holidays can cause higher levels of anxiety and depression for many reasons. This is especially true when dealing with feelings of sadness or loss, financial strain, or difficult family dynamics. The rise of inflation also adds to the pressure of gift-giving.
The extra activities, lack of sleep, unhealthy diet, increased alcohol intake, and busy travel can put further strain on your physical health — including your heart. Stay healthy and happy this holiday season with these tips to maintain your well-being, despite the busy weeks ahead.
- Put Your Health First
The pressures of the holiday can creep up on us as we get overtaxed by an increase in responsibilities. To avoid getting overwhelmed, it’s important to set boundaries and limit obligations. It’s okay to say “no” to avoid putting unnecessary strain on your health.
Remember you’re only one person, with only so many hours in the day. Make sure you put your needs first and take breaks or ask loved ones for help.
It’s impossible to meet everyone’s expectations and you might disappoint some people. If they have your best interests at heart, then they’ll understand that you have a lot on your plate. This holiday season, take time to check in with yourself and make sure you’re not overdoing it.
- Minimize Stressful Situations
This year, organize your time and avoid the situations that have caused painful emotions in the past. Putting your health first may also mean not attending certain gatherings or interacting with particular family members.
Most Americans blamed finances as their number one cause of holiday stress. The pressure to spend a lot of money and find the perfect gifts for everyone in your life is difficult to have hanging over you. Set a reasonable budget early on and stick to it. This can help keep your finances in check and put your mind at ease.
For another 22% of Americans, dealing with family conflict was their main reason for stressing out about the holidays. If you are dreading having to interact with certain family members, then it’s important to mentally prepare yourself.
Remember that “No” is a complete sentence and it’s okay to set boundaries to protect yourself from unhealthy situations. Take a look at your overall schedule and only take on what is necessary or what you can handle.
If you have to be somewhere and find yourself in a confrontation with a family member, you may need to practice the strategy of underreactivity. Also, take frequent breaks by leaving the party and stepping outside.
- Avoid Alcohol
Indulging in sweet treats and alcoholic beverages during the holidays is a part of the merriment. Unfortunately, this can harm your heart and overall health. If you can’t avoid alcohol and unhealthy food completely, try to reduce your intake as much as possible.
It’s important to include healthy foods in your diet this holiday season and remember to stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water, as sugary foods and alcohol can dehydrate you faster. Dehydration can lead to more dangerous health conditions.
Try not to fall behind on regular exercise. Taking a walk outside can not only improve your health but also your emotional well-being. Take the time to reflect and give yourself a break from the holiday rush. Remember that self-care is important, it’s okay to feel stressed, and not everything is in your control.
Scheduling a meditation or yoga class can also offer positive benefits when you’re in the midst of holiday stress. Treating yourself to a class will ensure that you put aside a time and place to dedicate your attention to your well-being.
- Surround Yourself with a Support System
The holidays are an important time to reach out to friends and family you trust. Talking about what you’re feeling and the pressure you’re under can help you feel better and find camaraderie in shared experiences.
You may also find that seeking professional guidance from a therapist could be beneficial to release stress. If you already have a history of mental health conditions, then it is especially important to get extra help around the holidays.
Sometimes we have no choice but to show up for an event, or complete tasks and errands that we’d rather avoid. In this case, remembering the important reasons why you are, for example, wrapping a giant pile of presents, can help you overcome the inner resistance to get it done.
- Check-In with Your Physician
If you’re wondering how stress is affecting your health, then it’s important to seek a professional opinion. Your family and friends care about you. Regular doctor visits ensure you live a long and healthy life.
Many health conditions are treatable if detected early. Frequent wellness visits can help you prevent major heart issues. In some cases, you may not notice any change in your health and still have an underlying condition such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
Early detection can help you avoid more serious issues that high levels of stress can increase the risk of, such as a heart attack or stroke. If you have a family history of these conditions, it is even more crucial to have regular checkups.
Make the Most of Your Holiday Season
Although there are plenty of reasons you may feel stressed during the holidays, it can also be a time of celebration, sentiment, and gratitude. It’s an opportunity to strengthen relationships and check in with your physical and emotional health.
This is the perfect time to schedule an appointment with one of our expert cardiologists to ensure you have a happy and safe holiday season. Let us help you gain peace of mind for you and your family by scheduling an appointment here.