The end of summer’s slide into a busy school year goes into overdrive as the holidays approach. October, November, and December’s calendar pages fill with events, activities, family engagements, and celebrations. But all that hustle and bustle can be hard on body, mind, spirit, and wallet so take a few minutes to catch your breath before the hubbub begins.
Dr. Chani Henderson of Family & Sports Chiropractic Clinic understands how interconnected the body’s systems are. With this in mind, she suggests pausing every now and then to keep YOUR system healthy. Here are a few tips from the experts to have a truly wonderful holiday season.
Experts at the Mayo Clinic explain that “The holidays are a time for family and cheer, but making sure the house is clean, the food is ready, and the presents are wrapped and ready to be opened can be overwhelming. These factors can bring unwanted stress and depression in a time meant for happiness.”
They advise planning ahead—both with calendar and finances—and working to create relaxing surroundings while maintaining healthy eating, sleeping, and exercise habits. But more than that, they hope everyone will respect differences, share their feelings, and be realistic about how much one person can do. “Forget about perfection and relax and enjoy the company surrounding you.”
But their last suggestion is at once simple and yet difficult: learn to say no. We all have limits and pushing past them for the sake of expectation is never a good idea.
Conquering SAD Days
This echoes advice from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). “The ‘most wonderful time of the year’ can quickly turn into the most stressful time of the year for many…common holiday pressures can create a perfect storm of exacerbated stressors, symptoms and setbacks if not proactively addressed.”
Especially in the Pacific Northwest, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) from the dark, gray days can bring on the blues. Until sunlight returns, make sure to pamper yourself when you can, spend time with loved ones, and squeeze in a little exercise. Perhaps most importantly, stay hydrated. Their experts remind us to “Drink plenty of water and herbal teas, and don’t forget to hydrate your skin with lotions and lip balms. Hydration nourishes the brain and its physical effects can improve your overall mood.”
Like Mayo’s experts, NAMI suggests making a plan, setting a budget, and being kind to yourself. “The holiday season only comes once a year, and while it’s understandable to aspire for perfection, it’s important to set realistic, attainable goals…The holidays bring joy and happiness as well as frustration and stress. This holiday season, you may have many things to take care of, but the most important one is yourself.”
Celebrating Through Loss
If you or someone you love is facing loss, the holidays can be difficult. “One of the greatest holiday stresses is the absence of a loved one who passed away,” say NAMI authors. “The empty seat where they would have sat can fill families with a sense of grief, loss, and emptiness…Know that some parts of the holiday will be wonderful, and some parts will be sad. The anticipation of sadness may be stressful, but the holidays provide an opportunity for healing. You can still take joy in the relatives that are present and remember fond memories of holidays past.”
Remind them, or yourself, that it’s ok to feel. Acknowledge emotions and seek help if needed. And don’t think you must maintain every custom you did in the past. “While they might be a comforting way to remember a loved one, sometimes family traditions are too painful to bear. Your family will find new ways to celebrate, and your traditions will adjust with time.”
Because humans are so interconnected—physically and socially—Johns Hopkins Medicine suggests asking yourself three simple questions when you’re feeling overwhelmed, stressed, or sad:
- Where does this fit in the grand scheme of things?
- Can I use this moment of frustration as an opportunity to reflect?
- Even if this moment seems stressful, can I find a way to make it pleasant?
Making space to pause, reflect, and choose joy will assure your holidays truly special. If you’re restricted by pain or limited mobility, call Dr. Henderson at 360.254.0400 or book an exam online today. Working through your medical history, ongoing issues, and wellness goals, together you’ll guarantee a holiday season that’s sure to sparkle.