The holidays are a time where people are brought together through shared traditions and celebrations. However, unfortunate things like stress, illness, and injury can often accompany this time of joy. Typical holiday stressors can range from trying to do too many activities, to spending too much on gifts, to trying to find enough time to cook or clean for the multitude of parties and visitors which often coincide with the festive time of year. People can experience anxiety over familial relationships. The sleeping schedules and the diet can be off, too. Holiday food is generally more fattening than what people eat during the rest of the year, featuring a number of recipes which are higher sugar and sodium. People could be at a higher risk of exposure to more food, pet, and environmental allergens.
Heart attacks during the holiday season are possible due to all of these changes and stressors, as well as inclement weather and snow shoveling. Viruses are easily transmitted during all of the crowded social gatherings. Any situation where a large number of people spend an extended period of time together increases the risk of spreading illness. Other dangers can even come from hanging lights and decorations on the house, such as falls and accidents. Over-scheduling, travel problems, and finances can all contribute to anxiety and depression. These issues which affect stress and mood may also weaken the effectiveness of the immune system.
It is important that patients remember to attend to their own self-care. They should take time to cope with holiday stressors so that the holiday season can be one of joy. From a psychological standpoint, it is necessary for people to take stock of the emotions that they are experiencing, figure out what needs to be resolved, and honestly deal with them. Reaching out for help from others, and even doing volunteer work, can boost the mood.
While holidays have traditions that many people try to adhere to, and it is natural to want to “do it all”, it is less stressful to be realistic and not shoot for perfection. Sometimes, prioritizing one’s own health and making smart choices about what can be accomplished is the only safe solution. Trying to set aside differences with family members can also help, especially when family members are visiting and intend to stay for an extended period of time.
Sticking to a budget will prevent the stress of opening the bills to find an unpleasant surprise at the end of the month. Homemade gifts and gift exchanges are useful alternatives to overspending. Planning ahead and doing a little work at a time, with assistance from others, will help to avoid last minute rushing around. Making plans ahead of time also allows for an objective perspective on how much free time one really has and how much time is needed to prepare for each activity. To prevent being overwhelmed, it is important to say “no” to certain activities.
Healthy Habits Need Not Take a Holiday
Healthy habits do not have to be abandoned during the holidays. Eating a healthy snack before going to parties could help to cut down on overindulgence in eating and drinking. As much as possible, maintain exercise and sleep habits during the holiday season. Taking breaks, meditation, having a walk, or just finding time alone, can all reduce stress. If depression and anxiety are too overwhelming, professional psychological help should be sought.1 Some may find it beneficial to find meaning in the season, while others may enjoy muscle relaxation and deep breathing.2 It is useful to break large tasks down into smaller, more manageable steps. Sometimes new traditions can replace older, stressful ones.3 It is important to avoid using alcohol or high calorie foods to boost the mood, as these indulgent forms of self-medication can have many consequences later.4
Chiropractic and Massage for the Holidays
It is crucial to deal with physical pain before it is a problem. Wearing comfortable clothing and shoes, staying adequately hydrated, and seeking regular chiropractic and massage care can be part of a healthy lifestyle all year round. For many, the holiday season occurs during a colder time of year, which means that wearing proper attire for the weather is important. Winter clothing which is improperly sized, such as boots which are too big, could leave the patient in a position where they are more prone to tripping.
In stressful times, such as the holiday season, taking care of the body is even more important. Chiropractors can alleviate pain naturally. Seeking help from a practitioner of complementary and alternative medicine, such as a chiropractor, might be part of the time which patients set aside for their own self-care.5 Chiropractors may offer nutritional supplements and suggest exercises and stretches patients can do at home to maintain their health. Cold weather is not the best motivator, and patients need to find ways to keep up their own fitness even in indoor settings. Massage can also be a great holiday present to give and receive. Massage is another natural way to promote relaxation.
Learn more about Breathing Exercises to Manage Stress.