Emotional Fitness for the Holidays

Warning . . . the holidays can be hazardous to our emotional health!  Here are ten suggestions for how to enjoy the holidays and stay emotionally fit:

1. Be self-aware.  Holiday stress is a given and our bodies can’t tell the difference between good stress and bad stress.  Stress of any sort sends us into high alert, with elevated heart rate and blood pressure.  Watch yourself for signs of overload . . . fatigue, stress, and irritability.

2. Set limits and boundaries for yourself - no one else will!  We don’t have to do everything, accept every invitation, or be everywhere throughout the holidays. Decide what you can realistically can do and stick with your plan.                      

3. Manage your expectations. There’s no such thing as a perfect Christmas, so let’s not strive for one.  The house doesn’t have to be spotless.  It’s not a contest. Every      Christmas holiday is different, so mark this one accordingly. 

4. Be proactive. Plan the holiday, versus having it plan you. Get together with friends and family you feel most comfortable with. Drive yourself so that you can leave when you want. Arrange a designated driver if you plan to enjoy a few drinks! Schedule some down time - just to do something for yourself.

5. Maintain some routines.  Holidays can keep us up late at night, make us passive, and change our diet drastically!  Get plenty of rest, exercise, and set limits on your food intake.  Know when to step away from the cookie tray!

6. Be creative with traditions.  Keep the customs and traditions that give you meaning and pleasure.  Discard the ones that don’t, and begin some new traditions that help to mark where your life is now.

7. Manage your family visits.  Avoid getting drawn into family conflicts or issues that have been brewing throughout the year.  Focus on the family relationships that uplift you.

8. Express  your feelings. Many different emotions surface during the holiday season from great joy to deep sadness.  Tap into your own feelings and find someone you trust to share them with.

9. Find meaning in the Christmas story.  Attend a local church service on Christmas Eve and sing some Christmas Carols.  There is no admission fee and the spiritual benefits are immeasurable. 

10. Keep it simple. Above all, avoid unnecessary work.  Recruit help and delegate! The holidays are meant to be shared- both the fun and the WORK!