While we often think of stressors (things that cause stress) as negative changes, keep in mind that stressors may even be positive changes, such as a wedding, a new job or promotion, a move, or even the holidays. Spending time with family and friends, hosting and attending parties, and giving gifts sounds - and can be - wonderful, but preparation can also be a lot of work.
Unfortunately, this stress can make it feel like the holidays have been “ruined.” And worse still, stress can contribute to cardiovascular problems, in addition to other health effects. The more stress you endure, the higher your risk of having a heart attack and dying suddenly from a heart event.
The following tips may help you reduce holiday stress and enjoy time with family and friends more, while helping your heart health:
- Learn to let go. If some aspect of the holidays does not live up to the level of perfection you hoped for, it is, in most cases, not a big deal. Take time to enjoy the holidays without worrying about an impossible number of details.
- Allow yourself plenty of time to get errands or a project done. Do what grocery and gift shopping you can a little bit ahead of time. You’ll avoid a sense of panic - and likely some crowds as well.
- Get or stay organized. Take the time to map out your errands and/or your meals for the week. A little preparation can be a time-saver in the long run, avoiding many trips to the store or inefficient trips around town.
- Learn how to say no. Remember that just because you can fit something into your schedule, doesn’t mean you should. Taking on additional responsibilities requires that you give up something else that is important to you - such as much-needed relaxation time.
- Make time for yourself. Try to stick to your diet and exercise routines as much as possible during the holidays, and leave quiet time for yourself. Read a book, take a warm bath, or practice yoga or meditate - whatever helps you recharge when you need it. Stepping away for a few minutes may help you enjoy holiday celebrations all the more.