By Aynsley Anderson Sosinski, LMH
Tuesday, November 8, 2016
Stress is often a part of our daily lives. For many, the holidays add an extra helping.
A survey conducted by the American Psychological Association found that close to 40 percent of respondents reported increased stress levels during the holiday season. The leading causes of stress included lack of time and money; exposure to too much commercialism or hype; pressure of gifts — giving or getting; family gatherings; staying on a diet; and increased credit card debt.
It’s not too soon to think about how to plan ways to simplify the upcoming holiday season while reducing your stress triggers. Lawrence Memorial Hospital is offering “50 (or More) Ways to Simplify the Season” at this month’s Senior Supper on Nov. 15.
Senior Suppers are offered on the third Tuesday of each month. Older adults are invited to come and dine at LMH for $5.51 at 5 p.m. and enjoy a healthy three-course meal prepared by the Unidine chefs, plus conversation with others. Reservations are required for the meal due to limited seating and must be made at least 24 hours in advance. Call LMH Connect Care at (785) 505-5800 or send an e-mail to email@example.com.
After the meal, there is a short free educational program beginning at 6 p.m. on a health or wellness topic. The seminar is open to adults of all ages.
Here are 12 tips to hopefully help you find more enjoyment in the holiday season and relieve holiday-related stress. For more information on coping with holiday stress, visit apa.org or lmh.org/wellness/healthlibrary.
12 tips to reduce holiday stress
- Make a list and check it twice. Create a realistic list of what you need to get done before the holidays and a timeline for completion. Pace yourself. Checking off items as completed can give you a real sense of accomplishing your goals.
- Make a budget in advance for what you can afford to spend and stick to it. Avoid using credit cards and layaway plans if possible. Overspending at the holidays can prolong financial stress well into the New Year.
- Make the “estimates.” Underestimate how much you can do in one day. Overestimate how long it will take to do it. Use any time left over for personal relaxation.
- Learn to ask for help. This may be as hard for some as learning to say “no.” Sharing the load allows others to be involved and feel part of things.
- Instead of buying a gift for someone, give the gift of your time. Make a voucher for a home-made dinner and an evening to share it. Give your older neighbor a certificate for a few hours of yard work help. Take a friend to lunch.
- Allow some things to slide. You can’t do what you normally do and add in the holiday stuff. Think about what you can put aside for a few days or weeks and let that happen.
- Don’t put your health last on the list. Something will probably have to give in the holiday rush but don’t let it be your health. Take extra-special care of yourself – try to get an adequate amount of sleep, eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly.
- Gift yourself with the gift of some “me” time each day. Sometimes this has to be scheduled into your calendar. Have a massage, read a book in a coffee shop, or go for walk. Just make sure the focus is on “you.”
- Laughter really can be the best medicine. Intense emotions often abound at this time of year. Allow yourself to feel and express these emotions. Both laughter and tears may help release stored up emotions; so laugh or cry!
- Reach out to others. Volunteer activities are a way for people, even children, to reach outside of themselves and give to others. If you are alone at the holidays, this is a wonderful way to share time with others who need you.
- One of the greatest gifts you can give your family is to learn about other cultures or ethnic groups and their holiday traditions. Experience some of the celebrations of Hanukkah or Kwanzaa. Invite an international student or a new-to-the-community family to share the holidays with you.
- Know that this time of year provides memories and these may not be happy ones for everyone. Grief often returns with a vengeance during the holidays. Reach out to those who may be saddened or hurting. A phone call, a card, a visit or an invitation to participate in your holiday events is so important.
— Aynsley Anderson Sosinski, MA, RN, is community education coordinator at Lawrence Memorial Hospital. She is a Mayo Clinic Certified Wellness Coach. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.