The holiday season is a blessed one for many. It often means a time of enjoying family and friends and spending time with those you love away from the hustle and bustle of a daily commute or grind.
But the dark side of the holiday season is the stresses it produces, especially – let’s face it, guys! – for women.
Between cooking, cleaning, caretaking and carpooling, not to mention dealing with immediate family, in-laws, people in your home that aren’t usually there and a budget that seems to be spiraling out of control, it’s easy to become super stressed. But this is no time to slack on your health.
Checkups, routine and otherwise, dental care, managing emotions and other things essential to your well-being are even more important this time of year – as it’s also cold and flu season for many.
As they say, when the mama’s unhappy, nobody’s happy, so here are a few techniques to stay healthy and happy through the holidays.
LET IT GO. You do not have to be the perfect, daughter, mother, wife, girlfriend, baby mama or super-superwoman. You don’t have to cook all the food, pick up all the kids, babysit everyone’s children and then turn into a sex queen later in the evening. Your house doesn’t have to be perfectly designed, decorated and cleaned for the holiday, even if you’re the hostess for the family dinner. If you saw some of the houses folks left behind to come to your house, you might be okay with yours.
Breathe. Stop. Anyone who makes you feel anything less than joyous during the holiday season doesn’t have to spend the holiday with you, unless they live with you. In that case, learn how to tune them out and tune yourself in. If all you can do is close the bathroom door and take a nice, long scented bath, take the time to do it. Hey, even if it’s only a shower, take a long one. Get an iPod, and download inspiring audiobooks or The Bible and any other spiritual readings or your favorite gospel or pulsating hip-hop music, whatever chills you out and keeps you upbeat.
TAKE YOUR TIME. Planning ahead can be a good thing. If you can plan and delegate as much as possible to others, you won’t have to run around rushed all the time. If you’re hosting dinner, buy non-perishable items early. If you have a list of things you need for Christmas, and those items are on sale during the numerous Black Friday (day after Thanksgiving sales) events nationwide, write down what it is that you want and create a plan of action. Know where things are in the stores so you don’t have to fight the crowds looking for it. If you can buy it on sale online, do it there. Why leave the house if you don’t have to? And of course, get there early. Remember, last minute shoppers will be as stressed and rushed as you are.
DON’T POSTPONE CHECKUPS. If it so happens that you have had to make doctor’s appointments during the holiday season, don’t postpone them. Go ahead and get serious screenings like mammograms, Pap smears and even dental exams done so you don’t have to stress about your health on top of everything else. If you’ve been feeling “off” and that concerns you, see if you can get an appointment before the New Year. If you’re pregnant, by all means keep all scheduled appointments. If you need to see the dentist, the dermatologist or any non-emergency health care professional, remember they like the holidays, too, and many will …..
go on vacations before the end of the year. If there is anything you’ve been meaning to see a doctor about, do it now. Click here for symptoms that absolutely need a doctor’s evaluation.
EAT RIGHT. It’s so easy to hit that drive-through after work, especially if it means your kids won’t complain about dinner. But try not to. This time is a good time to eat as healthy as possible, even if it means you just order more salads from take-out. If you do make time to cook, there are shortcuts available – everything from ordering an pre-cooked rotisserie chicken from the supermarket, or buying foods that are easy to make and heat up – frozen sweet potato fries are a healthy example. If you can’t eat as well as you should, you can always make a quick protein smoothie for breakfast and add a supplement that has essential vitamins (check your local Whole Foods or similar store for information) or just add vitamins to the mix. The “B” vitamins that are found in green, leafy vegetables are helpful when you’re stressed and can be supplemented. But it’s always better to get essential nutrients from your diet.
DRINK WATER. If you find yourself snacking while you’re under a great deal of pressure at work or at home during the holidays, you might not really be hungry. You might be thirsty. Often when people think they’re listless or lethargic due to hunger, it’s because they’re dehydrated. Get an aluminum water bottle and keep it with you all the time; fill it up at the water cooler and sip on it all day. That should help, and it will also help you feel full, so that when you do eat, you’ll probably eat less.
GET ENOUGH REST. Sleep, sleep and more sleep. That is one of the most important things to do when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Most of us don’t get enough sleep, and it’s significant for overall health and well-being. If you are having trouble sleeping, make sure you are in a cool, quiet room at night, without a lot of distractions. If your street is noisy, look for a white noise machine to counteract it. (A fan or a safe space heater, with a timer, can do as well.) Try not to watch TV or be on the phone or computer in the hours before bed and try to establish a regular bedtime schedule.
There’s a reason why this works for children, and it can work for adults, too. Good rest is one of the best ways to de-stress, and it’s absolutely free. If you can’t sleep, and it’s been going on for a long time, seek professional help. There are health problems that can be signaled by chronic insomnia.
DO SOMETHING PHYSICAL. If you can’t physically get to a yoga or meditation class, you can always download an exercise routine from any number of sites or at iTunes. If budget is an issue, some public libraries have exercise DVDs available for loan. If you can get to a class, whether its kickboxing, spinning or aerobics, it’s a great way to unwind and let go of the day’s challenges, and it’s also a spot of isolated “me” time if you need it. The easiest and most convenient exercise of all is walking, and no matter where you live, you can find a park, a fitness center, or even the mall walk for free.