Nov 14, 2019

Six Strategies for Keeping Stress at Bay During the Holidays

Many people look forward to the holiday season and the start of a new year. It provides an opportunity to spend quality time with family, take some off of work, and celebrate traditions. While this can be a fun and joyous time, it can also be very stressful. Unfortunately, chronic conditions don’t take a break during the holiday season, and this stress can exacerbate pain and symptoms. Though this can be a stressful time, there are several ways to minimize stress and anxiety so you can enjoy this festive time of year.

Be realistic.

Expect the unexpected this holiday season and don’t set yourself up for failure by wanting everything to be perfect. Stay realistic and mentally prepared for a few bumps in the road and stay focused on what really matters – family, friends, and good cheer. Keep your perspective and you will keep your sanity too.

Set a budget and stick to it.

Although spending money during the holiday season may be unavoidable, you can control how much you spend. Some of the stress you will feel over the holidays will have a lot to do with financial pressure if you aren’t careful. To help prevent stressing over money, plan ahead, review your finances, and come up with a realistic budget for gifts. Buying gifts shouldn’t affect your ability to pay your bills. If you have a large family or friend group, plan to do a gift exchange instead of buying something for each person. Or research homemade gifts ideas, after all the holidays should be about the memories, not the “stuff.”

Stay healthy.

During this time of year, it’s easy to make poor diet choices and throw your fitness regime out the window. The temperatures are cold and that comfy couch and cozy blanket are more appealing than a brisk walk outside. Unfortunately, inactivity and overindulging will make pain and depression worse- especially when winter blues are at a high. Staying active has been proven to help manage pain for arthritis patients so don’t give up because it’s cold or because you are busy. Sugary sweets and weight gain will add to arthritis pain as well, so while it’s ok to treat yourself once in a while don’t make it a habit. Remember to drink alcohol only in moderation. While cocktails and the holidays seem to go hand in hand, it can exacerbate arthritis symptoms and increase depression.

Set aside time for yourself.

This is a busy time of year. Make sure you are giving yourself time to rest and sticking to an adequate sleep schedule that allows for a good night’s sleep. Be sure to take time to pamper yourself during this season. If you’re feeling down or stressed, let yourself indulge a bit. Schedule a massage, get that expensive coffee or go home and binge on a trending television show.

Eliminate major stressors.

If there’s a stressful task that you dread every time the holiday rolls around, then it is time to let it go. Try to modify the task to make it less stressful, enlist someone to help you, or ask someone else to take it on. Find some way to make that stressful task less stressful and if you can’t, then drop it. Make this the season of you, and let go of the things that are holding you down.

Ask for help.

Seek support from your community and loved ones. The people who understand you best are others who are dealing with arthritis as well. Sometimes just venting to someone who faces the same challenges can help provide relief. Be sure to talk to your friends and family and be honest with them about your limitations or needs during the holidays. If you need help while shopping, reach out to a loved one. If you are feeling overwhelmed and exhausted, ask a friend to sit with your children while you nap. The people who love you will want to support you, but you just have to ask.

Holiday stress can be tough for anyone, but for someone with arthritis, a happy time of year can be miserable. The holidays are about family and friends, but before we take care of others we must take care of ourselves. For more tips on avoiding stress and surviving the holidays with arthritis, keep following Carolina Arthritis.