Holiday stress? Don’t forget to take care of yourself this busy season

pexels-photo-626165If you are feeling frazzled or blue, it’s a good time to take a minute to consider all the simple things you can do for yourself to reduce stress and stay healthy so you can enjoy this time of year with your friends and families.

Focusing on health means healthy eating — If you’ve made it a goal to eat healthy, the holidays can be challenging, if not impossible. Should you stick to your goal, or surrender and start again in January?

Trying to eat healthy food at this time of year can challenge anyone’s fortitude — we’re going to parties and eating out more and have less control over what is being served. Generally, you should watch your portion sizes and eat lots of fruits and vegetables. But it IS the holidays, so you should allow yourself to splurge a little bit, especially for your favorites. Just don’t overdo it. And give yourself a break – now is not the time to start a new diet.

Holiday gatherings also tend to have alcohol, which can add to stress and conflict. Any tips?

Generally, if you’re going to have alcoholic drinks, you should limit the number you have, and if you exceed that limit and get drunk, please don’t drive home. Have a designated sober driver, or call a driver to pick you up. Moderate drinking is up to one drink a day for women and up to two drinks a day for men. Sparkling water, hot cider, tea, or hot chocolate are always good choices as well, and they won’t leave you with a hangover or bad memories.

So if I’m stressed, eating comfort food or drinking alcohol is not really the way to deal with it. What else can I do to de-stress?

Physical activity is a great way to blow off steam. Many studies have shown that people who exercise regularly reduce their stress, ward off anxiety and feelings of depression, and sleep better, in addition to increasing your fitness and managing your weight. So take daily walks or set a time for the gym that is doable. It’ll help you have the energy and mental fortitude you need for this time of year.

Other tips for dealing with stress?

Take a deep breath and let yourself off the hook. This time of year can be frantic and busy. Try to maintain at least a semi-regular schedule for sleeping, eating, and exercising. Baking cookies, preparing fancy meals and shopping for the best gifts in the world won’t matter if you’re too sick or stressed to enjoy them with your family and friends. Focus on the positive aspects of your holiday celebrations and accept the things that are out of your control. Set limits on what you will do – no time for Christmas cards this year? Send them out at Easter instead. Or just skip them entirely. It’ll be OK.

Holidays are difficult for everyone, but if someone is really feeling like they are more stressed or depressed than normal, what are some options?

If you are down or blue, or maybe depressed, please ask for help from a trusted relative or friend. If you are the trusted relative or friend, Rock Your Role and get help. Resources also are available by calling the Idaho CareLine at 2-1-1, or Health and Welfare’s mental health crisis lines in each region. If you have thoughts of hurting yourself, please call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or call or text 208-398-4357.

A Closer Look at Your Health airs weekly on Boise’s KBOI Newsradio 670AM on Tuesday mornings. This is a transcript of the Dec. 26, 2017 program. 

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