December 5, 2018

Surviving the Holidays with Self-Care

No matter what you celebrate, the holidays are supposed to be the happiest times of the year. Times for family and reflection. Times for gift giving and being thankful for all you have. But they can also be overwhelming times for already-busy parents. There are parties and pageants, travel and cooking. There are shopping and wrapping, family and friends, cleaning and decorating. If you’re not careful, the stress of trying to handle it all can wear you down to the nub.

Stress Can Take a Toll

To make sure your holidays are indeed happy and not hair raising, you need to be careful not to let the extra demands bury you. “Everybody experiences stress, no matter what,” said Marni Amsellem, PhD, a clinical psychologist in Trumbull, CT.  “Left unchecked, stress can have all sorts of behavioral and physiological effects on people, all of them negative.” She said that it can make you more irritable, distracted or fatigued and can even affect how your body reacts to disease and infection. She said not dealing with stress in a healthy way can impact your appetite and sleep and can lead to getting sick.

Take Care of Yourself

Amsellem says the best thing is to manage your stress level preemptively, regularly practicing self-care and building yourself up. “Make sure you allow time each day to take care of yourself. Self-care promotes you feeling good. It helps reset and nurture you.” She suggests a few easy things you can do for starters, including making sure you get enough sleep and exercise, meditating, getting out of the house, and spending time with friends and family.

The American Psychological Association echoes Amsellem’s suggestions and adds more in an article titled, “Five tips to help manage stress”. In summary, the article suggests:

  1. Take a break from the stressor – Taking even a few minutes to step away from the source of your stress and doing something else can give you a new perspective on the situation or time to practice other self-care techniques.
  2. Exercise – Exercise benefits your mind and body and can often provide an immediate positive effect that can last for hours.
  3. Smile and laugh – Laughing or smiling can help reduce the tension that sometimes overtakes our emotions and facial expressions.
  4. Get social support – Confide in a trusted friend or family member who can understand and validate what you’re feeling.
  5. Meditate – Meditation can help the mind and body relax and focus.

Amsellem notes that what works for one person may not necessarily work for another. “Come up with a variety of options that work for you. Find something that makes you feel good, makes you feel renewed and refreshed.”

Make sure your holiday season is a happy one by making it a priority to set aside some time each day to take care of yourself. Self-care is a gift you can give to yourself that you can use year-round.

Here are some additional resources to help you deal with Holiday stress:

“Five tips to help manage stress,” The American Psychological Association

“Stress, depression and the holidays: Tips for coping,” Mayo Clinic

“4 Healthy Ways to Cope with Stress,” Psychology Today

Thank you for reading along, as we work together in raising the next generation of amazing kids!

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