Eight Tips for Managing Holiday Stress and Emotions
The holiday season is upon us. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the festive season may look very different. As a result, you may be feeling increased stress and unpleasant emotions. Here are some tips to help you reduce stress so you can make the most of the holidays this year.
1. Recognize Your Emotions
The traditions, rituals, and events you normally look forward to this time of year may not be possible and this can be disappointing. You may also feel lonely and miss being with family members you hold dear. Know that any feelings you may be experiencing are normal, and it’s okay to feel emotional about cherished holiday traditions and family visits that are not feasible.
2. Adjust Your Expectations
While you may be unable to gather in person with your closest family and friends this season, that doesn’t mean you cannot connect. A video call may not be the same as spending the holiday together, but knowing everyone is safe at home can bring peace of mind. Whether you host a virtual dinner, or create a new tradition, connecting with family can still be meaningful and enjoyable.
3. Focus on What You Can Do
Many creative ideas are out there to gather virtually with those you love! You could send a recipe to family members and prepare it together, hop online to decorate cookies together, or plan a virtual game night. For family and friends close by, consider doing something outside such as a socially distanced walk or hike. The CDC provides recommendations for safe holiday gatherings and celebrations on their website here.
4. Keep Moving
We know movement is medicine and physical activity boosts mood. Try looking into exercises or movements that can be done in the safety of your own home. If getting outdoors is a safe option for you, consider bundling up on a sunny day for a walk to boost endorphins and keep moving!
5. Prioritize Sleep
A good night's sleep can help ease some of the holiday stress. Aim for at least seven hours of sleep a night so you can feel your best. Try doing your exercise therapy before bed to unwind or relax with a good book.
6. Schedule Self-Care Time
Self-care is anything you do to maintain your physical, mental, or emotional health. Even with more time spent at home, it can be easy to put self-care aside to focus on other priorities. Taking time for yourself is essential to balanced health, lower stress, and overall happiness. Self-care can be a hot bath or shower, an exercise therapy session, or dancing to your favorite music.
7. Breathe Deeply
Deep breathing sends a message to your brain to relax and it can also help calm pain. Take a slow, deep breath by inhaling through your nose and letting your abdomen expand. Hold for a few seconds. Exhale slowly through your mouth. Repeat four more times and savor the peace and calm it brings.
8. Celebrate the Positive
While it is disappointing to miss out on some of your favorite family gatherings and holiday traditions, try to stay optimistic. Without the usual time spent traveling, standing in line purchasing items at the local mall, or hosting events, you may have the opportunity to enjoy a quieter and calmer holiday season. It may not be the same hustle and bustle you look forward to, but you may find moments of pleasure from a low-key holiday where you didn’t expect them.
Even simple actions can help you to renew and approach life with a fresh, calm perspective. Give yourself grace and know you’re not alone with feeling heightened emotions, especially this holiday season. If you need additional ideas on coping with holiday stress and emotions, reach out to your health coach for support.
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Emily Barker is a Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach at Hinge Health with a Bachelor's degree from Santa Clara University. She is passionate about helping others to live a healthy lifestyle, avoid chronic disease, and reduce persistent pain. Boise-based, Emily enjoys riding her bike on the greenbelt, exploring farmers markets, and spending time with her three teenagers and husband.