Health Matters

Tinsel in a Tangle? Don’t Let Stress Spoil the Season

We waited all year for the holiday season, but is it becoming a bit too much? Does the prep sap your energy, dominating the lead-up to the celebration?
woman with tangled tree lights
 
What if, rather than focusing on the “big finish” or making a future moment perfect, we slowed down and made a point of enjoying the season—stress, shopping, and all?
 
Health and lifestyle counselor Linda Potter says that being proactive in managing stress and practicing mindfulness—being “in the moment” or “tuning in”—can help.
 
Potter works at the URMC Healthy Living Center with folks interested in reducing stress. She knows you can’t buck those time-intensive traditions altogether (bah, humbug!). Instead, she suggests finding ways to enjoy the planning, and the season, itself.
 
 
 
Potter offers these tips for unwinding during the holiday hubbub:
  • Set the tone. Light a spicy fragranced candle or whip up a special hot drink before setting to work on a wrapping or baking bonanza. It’ll set a cheerful tone to help make those must-do chores part of the fun, rather than something to rush through. Or set a time limit for your project and stick to it, then reward yourself with the hot drink while you curl up with a book or watch that TV show you DVR’ed weeks ago and haven’t had one second to view.
  • Make it social. You’ll split the work when you invite pals to tag along and—as a bonus—that task you’ve been avoiding transforms into a special gathering.
  • Slow down. Dodge the post-holiday let-down by letting up on the gas now. Pause to enjoy the aromcappuccino and candlesatic sensation of baking, the textures and colors of fancy wrapping supplies, the glitter of lights in your neighborhood. If you want to treasure vivid memories of the season, you have to slow down and take time to wonder afresh at the beauty. It takes concentration, but it’s worth the effort.
  • Have a back-up plan. Anticipate situations that stress you out, and think ahead about how to handle them. You might take a 10-minute “time out” to collect your thoughts and calm down, or decide to go for a walk or hit the gym to boost your mood.
  • Just breathe. It sounds simple, but few of us use breathing to counter stress. Taking deep, whole breaths can help you relax, refocus, and slow down.
  • Catch some Zzzzzzzzzz. Don’t underestimate the power of sleep. When you don't get enough shut-eye, your mind and body can’t recuperate and rejuvenate for the next day.
 
'Tis the season to remember what's meaningful to you and the important people in your life. Rekindle your spirit by noticing moments of joy and paying them forward.
 
 
Linda Potter, LCSW
 
Linda Potter, L.C.S.W., is a licensed clinical social worker, and a health and lifestyle counselor at the Healthy Living Center, part of the URMC Center for Community Health. The Health Living Center offers programs to help you lose weight, manage blood pressure or cholesterol, stop smoking, and reduce stress.
 
 
 

 

 

Lori Barrette | 12/19/2013 | 0 comments

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Welcome to Health Matters, a blog aimed at keeping you and your family healthy. We offer advice from URMC experts on timely topics, as well as insight into breaking news and medical research. Visit us weekly for updates and invite your family and friends to check us out. If you have a topic you’d like to see us cover, please send a note to Lori Barrette.

Though health advice offered here is provided by experts, there is no substitute for the personal care your own provider can offer. If you have medical questions or concerns, please contact your physician.


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