Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy Kwanza. No matter how or what you celebrate, the holiday season does not have to be stressful. Holiday stress can often result from setting high expectations and seeking perfection - when the two don’t match the situation becomes stressful.
To serve as a friendly reminder of how to be healthy, less stressed and more joyful over the holidays, these tips may apply to you and your patients too.
- Eat, drink and be merry in moderation
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, enjoy the seasonal foods and drinks, just do so in moderation. It is okay to enjoy the festivities and holiday treats, but try to stay balanced and if you over do it on occasion, don’t give up, just get back to following your plan for a healthy lifestyle.
- Manage holiday stress
Many report feelings of stress and exertion over the holidays. Amid all the activities, a simple and low-cost way to manage stress is to take time for yourself. Keep your normal sleep schedule. Plus, if you meditate quietly at home regularly, get up a few minutes earlier if you need to keep pace with your normal schedule. Take a class at your local gym? Do your very best to keep up with your schedule, and you will look and feel more refreshed throughout the season. Meeting friends for your annual get-together? Stress less by giving yourself ample time to get where you are going without rushing. If you must forego or delay something to get where you are going on time, make the alteration to your schedule and you will be more relaxed and ready to have fun with people you may only see at the holidays once or twice a year.
- Manage chronic healthcare conditions, keep pace with your medications and doctor appointments too
It is tempting to focus on the holiday fun and turn a blind-eye to managing your health. No matter how tempting this sounds, don’t do it. Stay on pace navigating your chronic conditions, with your medications, and take the last opportunity you have to see healthcare professionals during the calendar year. Most insurance plan benefits start over in January, therefore, make the most of your healthcare coverage. If you have met your annual deductible, your out-of-pocket expenses could be greatly reduced versus waiting for the beginning of the year to be treated.
- Have a PLAN B, know your health insurance nurse help line just in case your have a medical question while your physician’s office is closed
It is not uncommon for people to need medical care during November and December. In fact, heart disease, cerebrovascular and respiratory disease seem to peak in the winter months and slow down during the warm weather months. Have your nurse line handy and you likely won’t need it, just like having an umbrella almost ensures in will not rain!
- Keep moving
A sedentary lifestyle is linked to poorer health. Take advantage of the busy season to walk a little further by seeking the far-away parking spot at the mall, or go for a long walk and enjoy the unseasonably warm weather projected for this winter throughout most of the country.
- Travel safely
Beyond the usual distractions, now that the holidays are upon us, people are even more distracted – they have the usual things to get done, plus holiday decorating, gift buying, wrapping, shipping and of course, holiday meal preparation and cooking. Do your share and don't drive and text or talk; I know it is tempting, but instead of dialing up when you get in the car, turn the radio to some holiday music and sing along. In the car with the kids? Do a contest to see who is best at remembering the words to the songs, it’s a mindless way to bond with family and friends and doesn’t cost a dime.
- Enjoy yourself
You may be used to your packed routine and have no trouble keeping up with all that comes with the holidays. Keep it up if it brings you joy. If not, do something different, don’t buy gifts – instead make donations in the names of your friends, don’t cook – go out to eat your holiday meals. You decide but commit to trying something new until you are happy and looking forward to this joyous and festive time of the year.