The holiday season for a lot of folk begins with the much revered Thanksgiving holiday and lasts through New Year’s Day.  It is also the time of year fabled for being the most joyous.

According to Janet Taylor, clinical instructor of psychiatry at Harlem Hospital in New York City, 75% to 90% of people report feeling tense or blue during the holiday season.  These emotions, she says, can crop up precisely because people feel pressure to make the holidays live up to their magical reputation.

The tendency to “overindulge” in rich seasonal  food and sweets, that rush to buy the best gifts, mailing  those cards on time, and preparing for  expected holiday visitors can make anyone leave their regular routines, affecting such things as  blood-sugar levels and releasing more stress hormones, particularly when alcohol is added.

An article by the Mayo Clinic on the connection between spirituality and stress relief lists several tips to help us weather this holiday season stating that spirituality helps to give our lives context.  Connecting with ourselves and with others, the development of our personal value system and our search for meaning in life all play a role.

Here are a few helpful tips to reduce some of that stress and anxiety we often experience at holiday time:

  • On those sunny days, spend some time outdoors or simply sit by a window taking it in ~ we all know about SAD (seasonal affective disorder) and that little bit of sun can help to relieve it
  • Do you overbook yourself during the holidays?  Meeting other’s expectations can be an exhausting effort.   Try to limit those yes’s and take of yourself.  You and your family will benefit.
  • Exercise can play a major role here.  Just a brisk walk each day can help you keep focused and energized.
  • Take the time to savor sipping a steaming mug of cocoa with the children, enjoy that first snowfall or simply breathe in the aromas of oranges and cloves and evergreen boughs.  These little moments can make your holidays memorable, not tolerable.
  • Often we overeat at Grandma’s house or those wonderful Christmas parties.  When you pick your food choices, try piling on veggies first, then protein, and just a little of those holiday goodies.  You will thank yourself later when you can still fit into those slim pants.  One tip to share that I have found to be helpful ~ instead of going hungry to those parties, I fix myself a nutritious shake before I leave ~ it keeps me from eating too much and I do not have so many cravings for all of the sugar that is often present.

What are the little things that bring you joy?  By structuring the holidays around activities that make them feel more genuine and meaningful, can relieve a lot of stress.   Whatever your holidays may be, enjoy!

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