Don’t Let Holiday Stress Get You Down

October 29, 2021

It’s ironic but true that the holiday season, filled with occasions for joy, gratitude, and devotion, can also cause stress. We can lay the blame on the usual suspects (hello, shopping and travel), but there are other factors in play: the darkness and colder weather, loneliness, and of course the ongoing stress of COVID.

During the pandemic, we’ve been hearing a lot about remembering to take care of ourselves – which is especially true for people like you who are professional caregivers. “The majority of us work in healthcare because we love to give to others, but because of this it can be easy to neglect ourselves,” says Lauren Wolfe, a memory care social worker here at Kline Galland.

Do you know when you’re feeling stressed? According to the CDC, stress can cause:

  • Feelings of fear, anger, sadness, worry, numbness, or frustration
  • Changes in appetite, energy, desires, and interests
  • Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
  • Difficulty sleeping or nightmares
  • Physical reactions, such as headaches, body pains, stomach problems, and skin rashes
  • Worsening of chronic health problems or mental health conditions
  • Increased use of tobacco, alcohol, and other substances

Here are some good ways to manage holiday stress:

  • Recognize it. Taking a moment to understand your feelings is the first step in managing them. Avoiding your stress will only make it worse. Be honest with yourself – and also be very kind.
  • Take action. What are the sources of your stress? Shopping? Organizing a group meal? Some problems may seem too big to tackle, but making one small change could make a difference. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. If you feel you may be suffering from depression, please contact your healthcare provider right away.
  • Take care of yourself physically. Physical health affects mental health. Find ways to continue moving or exercising, outside when possible. During the holidays it’s not always easy to eat healthfully, what with all the treats and large meals. Try to be mindful about what you’re eating and drinking, and how much. Try smaller portions.
  • Get plenty of rest. Don’t downplay the importance of a good night’s sleep – or the impact of too little sleep. If you can, take a cue from many of our senior residents and clients – take a good nap!

“When I notice myself getting overwhelmed or stressed, I try to step back and focus on the things that bring me joy, small and large,” says Lauren Wolfe. “I’ll go for a walk on my lunch break and listen to music, grab coffee and treat myself to something sweet, call and catch up with a friend, or spend time visiting with family. Being able to talk to others who can share in what you’re feeling is always helpful. This is the season of gratitude and giving – remember to share some of that with yourself as well!”

Above all, remember that holiday stress is not unusual – you are not alone, by far. Try to let the true spirit of the season prevail – peace, family, and faith.