The holiday season is supposed to be a time for family get-togethers, reunion with friends, great food and drinks, and exchange of gifts. For many people however, this particular time of the year also brings quite a bit of anxiety. With so much shopping, cleaning, planning, gift-wrapping, and party preparations to do, stress levels are at an all-time high.
Some people have learned to expect this seasonal stress as a normal part of their annual holiday experiences. However, stress is something that should not be taken lightly. It poses serious health risks and dampens your holiday celebrations considerably.
The Negative Effects of Stress
Stress is a normal physical reaction to situations that tend to disrupt the balance and harmony in daily life. It can be good in small doses because it motivates a person to take control and cope with the stressful event.
Chronic stress, on the other hand, can cause a string of health problems that affect a person's physical, mental, and behavioral well-being. Watch out for this signs of a stress overload:
• Physical Symptoms
Stress can manifest itself in the form of headaches, muscle tensions, constipation, fatigue, nausea, chest pains, and susceptibility to colds.
• Emotional and Mental Symptoms
People who are highly stressed can be moody, short-tempered, agitated and depressed. They may become forgetful, unable to concentrate, and constantly worried or anxious.
• Behavioral Symptoms
Individuals with chronic stress levels may resort to either binge eating or eating too little. Their sleep patterns are also disrupted and their duties and responsibilities become neglected. They may resort to alcohol or other substance abuse as a form of escape.
Helpful Tips to Avoid Holiday Stress
The holiday season is a time when family and friends are near and the celebrations are abundant. Therefore, if you do not wish to suffer from the stress symptoms mentioned above, here are some helpful tips to avoid them:
• Plan Ahead
One of the best ways to beat the holiday rush (which is the main culprit of stress during this season) is to be ahead of schedule. Start preparing weeks, or even months, in advance. Do a bit of shopping, gift-wrapping and decorating, a little at a time. This way, you won't get overwhelmed when crunch time arrives.
• Identify your Sources of Stress
Take time to reflect on the things that tick you off and cause you grief during the holidays. Make a list and then try to categorize them into rational and irrational groups. You'll be surprised to find how much you make a big deal out of simple and avoidable situations.
• Create Action Plans for Each Stressor
For example, if you hate the long lines in department stores and groceries, you can avoid it by shopping in advance. However, if your source of stress is seeing a particular family member at the reunion, maybe it's time to re-assess the way you feel and address your personal issue before you face them.
Most importantly, make sure to take good care of you health. Eat right, get plenty of sleep, exercise, enjoy some fresh air, and just have fun during this season of good cheer.