For some, the holidays are their favorite time of year- spending time with family, decorating, eating, drinking- it sounds great! But for others, these can bring unwanted stress and even depression. The holiday season is demanding! From cooking elaborate meals and baking to shopping and entertaining, the tasks can be overwhelming. And now, layering on the changes and uncertainty of COVID-19, some are feeling the stress and anxiety more than ever as we enter into this winter holiday season. However, we’ve got you covered with some strategies to reduce your stress and help you even enjoy these next few weeks and months!
1. Keep your lines of communication open! This season, you may be feeling isolated and lonely, whether it’s due to changes in your traditional holiday plans due to COVID-19 or not. Acknowledge that what you’re feeling is normal and even expected right now. Reach out to others, be it family or other communities and social groups. You may not be able to connect in-person, but don’t hesitate to reach out via text, a phone call, or video call to friends and loved ones, as they are probably having similar feelings as you!
2. Volunteering. Doing small selfless acts to help others is a proven way to improve your emotional well-being! Simple initiatives like making a meal or baking cookies and dropping it off at a friend’s place can brighten their mood as well as yours.
3. Come up with a budget and stick to it. Money is tighter for many people this year, especially due to COVID-19. Don’t fall into the commonly held belief that spending more money on others brings more happiness. A meaningful gift does not have to be expensive! Plan out your budget for shopping for gifts and food and stick to the budget. Also consider gift alternatives like donating to a charity or event in someone else’s name or making homemade DIY gifts.
4. Create a schedule. Plan out each day for getting your shopping, cooking/baking done. Planning out phone calls, video chat events, and other virtual and socially-distance events will help to make sure you connect with others.
5. Stick to your healthy habits! Continue eating healthy and consider meal prepping ahead of time so that you always have healthy options on hand. Eating a small healthy snack prior to bigger holiday meals can help minimize overindulging on treats and beverages. Continue getting regular physical exercise. If your gym is closed, doing something as simple as doing a quick 20 minute home workout (100 burpees for time!) or going for a walk, can help keep your mood lighter and provide a way to de-stress. In addition, be sure to make time for yourself. Saying no to events and activities during the holidays can be hard, but remember to take as much time for yourself as needed to not feel overwhelmed.
With a little planning and prioritization of your physical, mental, and emotional health, you can enjoy this holiday season with less stress and more relaxation!
Kelly Wild (@kellywild8) is a licensed Doctor of Physical Therapy. She also is a National level Olympic Weightlifter and former 3 time CrossFit Games athlete. Kelly also played Division I ice hockey at Ohio State University. Kelly believes that health care should be proactive, not reactive. This mantra has inspired Kelly to publish a number of online fitness protocols at Californiastrength.com that anyone can use to reduce injury risk and improve strength in order to continue to pursue all of your athletic and fitness goals!