The Holiday Season can be a particularly difficult time to navigate. For some, trying to meet the dizzying demands of cooking meals, shopping, baking, entertaining can lead to stress and anxiety. For others who are suffering from loneliness or the loss of a loved one, the holiday season can be full of stressors.
In fact, Christmas holidays have long been associated with the highest incidence of myocardial infarction. A 2018 study published in the British Medical Journal looked at data from 1998-2013 and found that the risk of having a heart attack was 37% higher on Christmas Eve peaking at 10pm, suggesting a role of external triggers in vulnerable individuals.
With the recent announcement of tighter covid restrictions, you may be feeling additional stress. Perhaps you are feeling sad because your holiday plans look different from previous years’ or perhaps because you are worried about your and your loved ones’ health.
Here are some practical tips that can help you minimize stress. You may even end up enjoying the holidays more than you thought you would.
- Stick to a healthy routine. There is nothing like the holidays to throw the whole family off track. We can let the kids slide a little with bedtime and device use during the winter break but set reasonable limits so as to avoid the emotional roller coasters that accompany a total breakdown of routine. Skipping out on the morning run, yoga, or meditation to sleep in may be tempting but be careful not to fall off the bandwagon entirely.
- Don’t take on too much. Forcing oneself to meet unrealistic expectations such as spending outside of your budget, is a perfect recipe for a heart attack. Even if we don’t have Christmas planning to throw us into a panic, many of us are just too hard on ourselves. Stop pushing yourself too hard, whether at work, at home, or on a personal level. Sometimes less is more.
- Watch what you consume. Eat healthy meals. Resist the urge to over-indulge and be wary that you do not go hungry for long periods of time in between heavy meals. Healthy moderation is key and keeping yourself nourished and hydrated is important. Also be aware of how information culture can produce undue stress. Be mindful about selecting and consuming healthy doses of news and social media.
- Honor your needs and those of your family. This is key to minimizing stress and allowing yourself and your family to truly enjoy the holidays. Before making those plans, slow down and listen to your body. Learn to say no and be selective about how you really want to spend your time and energy.
- Manage sensitive conversations and avoid conflict. The holidays should be a time of peace and reconciliation. Be open and kind and listen more without judgment. Recognize that everyone has a right to their feelings and opinions and that it is not your job to fix or change them. Love and accept your friends and family for who they are. It is ok to agree to disagree. After all, your unique opinions and beliefs make you unique too.
- Embrace change and imperfection. The holidays don't have to be perfect or just like last year. As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well. Choose a few to hold on to, and be open to creating new ones. For example, if your family can't come to your home, find new ways to celebrate together, such as sharing pictures, emails, or videos.
- Truly celebrate from the heart. Take the time to ponder the year that is coming to an end. Reflect upon the lessons learned and the new opportunities that lie ahead. Celebrate the challenges you have overcome, the achievements you made, the relationships you have built over the past year. Be truly grateful for all that you are and all that you have.
- Connect with others. If you are feeling lonely and need some company, it is important to connect with others. Reach out with a text, a call or a video chat to someone you have an interest in connecting. Start a conversation about something you and your friend have in common. Offering a listening ear or doing something to help others also is a good way to lift your spirits and broaden your friendships.
- Seek professional help if you need it. If you find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious and unable to face routine chores, it is ok to seek professional help. It is perfectly normal to find this time of year particularly challenging.
- Book a Vancity Physio Session.Our last but not least practical tip to surviving the holidays is to book with us. We have programs (some new and exciting ones) to help you tune up physically and emotionally. Keep your eyes out for our new Mindfulness Webinars that will be launched in January 2022. VanCity Physio is here to support you in any way we can to cope with the holidays and beyond.
Kyi Min Saw
Book a consultation today: https://vancityphysio.janeapp.com/
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