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Navigating Additional Stressors During the Holidays
Posted: Dec 29, 2021
Navigating Additional Stressors During the Holidays image

The Holiday Season is meant to be a time of joy, celebration, sharing experiences with loved ones. However, often this season is met with additional stresses and can distract from the purpose of the season. Feeling stressed because of family expectations, many parties on the schedule, lack of fitness due to weather or less daylight hours as well as change in nutrition because of convenient snacking can cause us to feel guilt. When we feel guilt over these things we often beat ourselves up and go extreme in trying to make up for it. 

I’m here to say stress is absolutely normal especially when there are so many expectations. Let’s do what we can to minimize that stress through some simple fixes. 

First, our schedules get overloaded with events- holiday parties with family, friends, kids/grandkids programs, work parties, doctor appointments, plus our normal daily lives. None of those are bad things to have on your schedule- however, it’s not setting boundaries and feeling the need to be everywhere at the same time that can alter how we feel. My recommendation to combat this stress and guilt of feeling overwhelmed is to establish boundaries with those around you. Decide what events are most important to you and go to those, the ones that are just adding it’s ok to say no, or be vocal about not being able to bring extras, cook or whatever it is that’s causing too much stress. 

Second, gift-giving can be overwhelming. The cost of toys, items, and gadgets it can add financial stress when we are already feeling stressed over treatments, dr’s appointments, and increases in everyday costs. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t get them the latest trinkets. The most important and valuable gift these days is time. Give the gift of spending time with loved ones. Whether that’s taking your spouse on a date, having a playdate with grandkids or visiting friends and taking them a treat. Being with those who are important to you is the most special gift you can give. 

Third, a reduced immune system can be stressed when it’s cold/flu/covid season. Personally, this is one I struggled with for years. I would get the flu shot every year, and every Christmas I would end up with the flu- the kind that knocks you down for weeks. It was miserable and made me not excited for the holidays. I’ve since broken the streak and have been able to stay healthy. I am vocal with my family about my concern of getting sick, if anyone in their family has been sick they know I will stay far away. It’s important to communicate with those you will be with what your needs are. No one enjoys getting sick, so expressing that it’s a concern of yours is not selfish, they should be able to understand. 

Fourth, a reduction in fitness can cause much guilt of not doing enough. In winter there are many barriers to getting regular exercise in. Cold temperatures, achy bones, short daylight hours, jam-packed schedules and just plain feeling blah during this time. I want to stress that it’s ok to have rest days. There is a lot going on this time of year and when you feel fatigued and down it’s ok to take a nap, enjoy some extra rest or do a little yoga. 

We can also get creative with our fitness- doing some circuit workouts that are short and sweet at home are just as great as a long gym session, it reduces our strain on time, gets our blood pumping, and can help clear our head. Icy, snowy and cold conditions can keep us indoors for our exercise, either try the treadmill, elliptical or spin bike at the gym if you have access, however, if you don’t, you can walk in your home, do laps through the house, walk up and down the stairs or just walk in place. It sounds really boring to just walk in the place, but if you have a hard time getting in your cardio and struggle with balance you can hold on to a chair and work on walking in place. Exercise doesn’t have to look the same way all the time. Get creative with what you try, turn on your favorite music and dance through the house, grab a partner and dance together. You can have fun with it! 

The author Linnley Sweeney

about the author
Linnley Sweeney

Linnley is a Cancer Exercise Specialist. She joined HealthTree in January 2020 to share her passion for health. Her husband is a Childhood Cancer Survivor as well as a Cancer Biologist. Finding a cure, better treatments, and balancing life through treatment is a huge passion of their family. She's a mom of an energetic 6-year old, marathon runner, and Ironman finisher. Fitness has been a huge part of her life, and she loves to share it with others.

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