With holidays in full swing, it’s time to decorate the house, trim the tree, buy gifts, cook food and have a heart attack? Experts say that this is the time of year that people are most likely to have a heart attack. Excessive holiday stress is most likely the culprit behind these statistics. A season that is supposed to be a time filled with joy and goodwill can quickly become a time of worry and anxiety that can adversely affect your health.
There are many circumstances that trigger various levels of stress and anxiety. Depending on the person, individual stress responses can vary greatly. For example, one person may be become stressed by visiting family members while another may experience anxiety associated with being alone during the holidays. Some other major causes of elevated holiday stress include concerns related to money as well as issues surrounding time restraints.
Here are some thoughts to consider that might make your holiday season merrier:
• Have realistic expectations. There is no such thing as perfection. Trying to attend every party or attempting to purchase gifts for absolutely everybody are not realistic goals. Understanding and accepting your limitations will lead to much more enjoyable holidays.
• Keep exercise a priority. Your health will benefit greatly from maintaining your workout regimen since exercise is a proven stress reducer. In addition, exercising during the holidays will help offset any extra calories consumed.
• Don’t feel obligated to spend money in excess. Let people know ahead of time that you are setting limits on your budget this year and that you would prefer that they didn’t purchase expensive gifts either. Setting limits on dollar amounts is a good way to level the seasonal playing field, thus reducing stress where holiday gift giving is concerned.
• Cultivate new gift giving traditions. Instead of buying and giving gifts, make a donation to charity in the name of the recipient. This is a great way to economically perpetuate the spirit of giving.
• Make a master list. Record everything that you can think of that needs to be done and keep your list with you at all times. By doing this, you will be reminded often of the seemingly small items on your list that could creep up on you and cause unwanted stressed. As you go on holiday shopping trips, tick off the items as they are accomplished. Before you know it, your list will be completed and you won’t have as many last minute worries.
• Remember what the holidays are really about. It can be very stress relieving to reflect upon the true meaning of the holidays. Too much hustle, bustle and commercialization leads to excessive stress. Work a daily breather into your busy schedule to just ponder the significance of this wonderful time of year.
The holiday season is a time to be enjoyed with family and friends. Too much stress can take the joy out of the holidays and even have a detrimental effect on your health. Instead of being riddled with stress and worry, simplify your holidays and celebrate the beauty of the season.
Monackey, Heather. “Holiday Heart.” 24 December 2009. Wake Med Voices. 3 December 2010 .