“Studies show that our appetite for sweets increases quite dramatically when we experience chronic stress which makes the holiday season prime time for expanding your waistline,” Dr. Heidi Hanna, executive director of the American Institute for Stress, tells Newsmax Health. “Don’t deprive yourself of the occasional treat but practice eating slowly, calmly and mindfully.”
Busting Holiday Stress: 6 Ways to Make the Season Happy, Healthy talks about how the winter holidays can bring feelings of happiness, love, and genuine joy, but for millions of Americans they also bring unhealthy stress levels that can negatively impact your body and mind.
It says that according to a report compiled by the American Psychological Association, holiday stress has the greatest impact on women who customarily take charge of many of the holiday celebrations — particularly the tasks of preparing the meals and decorating the home.
Here are some quick tips from the American Psychological Association:
Take time for yourself. There may be pressure to be everything to everyone but remember that you are only one person and can only accomplish certain things. Take a long walk, get a massage, or simply put your feet up and listen to fine music.
Don’t neglect your physical health. If you have a regular exercise routine, don’t give it up. Exercise releases natural feel-good hormones that can combat stress.
Set realistic expectations. No Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanza or any other holiday celebration is perfect. Look at the inevitable mistakes or mishaps as opportunities to demonstrate resilience and flexibility. Learn to let go of perfectionist idealism because it does not exist.
Volunteer. What better way to appreciate what you’ve got than to help others who have less? You can “adopt” a less fortunate family and make their holiday shine. You can wrap gifts for foster children, serve at a soup kitchen, volunteer at homeless shelter, or participate in a giving tree celebration that benefits communities at large.
Remember what’s important. The barrage of holiday advertising can make us forget what the holiday season is really about. When your expense list is running longer than your monthly budget, scale back and remind yourself that what makes a great celebration is family, not store-bought presents, elaborate decorations, or gourmet food.
Seek support. Talk about your feelings of anxiety with friends and family. Getting things out in the open can help you navigate through the holiday season with less resentment and anger. In addition, being honest with your loved ones can help find a solution for your stress.
If you continue to feel overwhelmed, consider seeking a professional to help you manage your holiday stress.