It’s the most wonderful time of the year. The holidays are a time to visit with friends and family and be merry. But for many, the holiday season is also a season of stress. Everyday stressors such as work, caring for family, and paying the bills get amplified when the holidays arrive. People often find themselves asking, “How will I pay for presents?” “What will I do for child care while my kids are out of school?” “How do I wrap up year-end projects at work and make quality time for loved ones amidst the myriad of holiday celebrations?” “Am I making the holidays ‘special’ for the people I care about?”
According to the American Psychological Association, holiday stress has a particular impact on women who are often responsible for planning holiday celebrations. In addition, women have a harder time relaxing during the holidays and are more likely to fall into bad habits to manage their stress like comfort eating. On average, both men’s and women’s weights increase about 1.3 pounds during the Christmas-New Year season.
Here are a few of my suggestions on avoiding the holiday blues.
- Save in July. Whether starting in the summer and putting aside a few dollars or getting creative with homemade gifts, the holiday season doesn’t necessarily have to drain your bank account. One of the incentives of participating in the Vitality program is the opportunity to earn Vitality Bucks for making healthy choices. Each year, I hoard the bucks I earn and redeem them for Amazon.com gift cards I can use to spend on presents.
- Don’t wait for New Year Resolutions. This year, I took this one to the extreme and decided to start the Whole 30 program four days before Thanksgiving. While you don’t need to do anything that drastic, make a manageable commitment to yourself, such as deciding to consume only one dessert or adult beverage at each party you attend or hitting the gym for an extra sweat session after each holiday celebration.
- Make time for quality time. One of the many benefits of this time of year is the number of activities and events on the calendar. Pick a few you can do as a family or with friends to maximize time together and say, “No” to the others. Bonus points if quality time equals active time.
- Give back. Find an opportunity to help others. Volunteer at your local food shelter. Purchase and give holiday presents to a child in need. This is the perfect time of year to spread holiday cheer and as a side benefit, helping others is proven to decrease levels of depression.
- Take advantage of what your employer offers. Have you looked at your EAP lately? Employer-sponsored services are designed to help you manage personal or family problems, including mental health, substance abuse, various addictions, marital problems, parenting problems, emotional problems, or even financial or legal concerns.
How do you thrive during the holiday season? Share your tips and tricks with us on Twitter @VitalityUSA.