Beat holiday stress

Published 1:10 pm Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Many people find the holiday season can be stressful. Holiday hosts may bear the brunt of seasonal stress, but the season also may be challenging for those who have lost loved ones or do not have close families to celebrate with. When holiday hustle leads to frayed nerves, there are some things people can do to reduce their stress:

• Hit the gym. The American Society for Exercise Physiologists says exercise has been shown to increase one’s sense of well-being, mood, self-esteem, and stress responsivity. Stress can rev up adrenaline, and exercise can help relieve any pent-up energy and frustration.

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Tammy Wingo, family practitioner and founder of Hope Clinic of Farmville, also encourages members of the community to work in physical activity and plenty of time to rest, during the holiday season.

“Making sure you are getting at least eight hours of sleep per night,” Wingo said. “Exercising at least 20 minutes a day, five days a week.”

Pat Payne, founder of the Heart of Virginia Free Clinic, also encouraged residents to make sure they have the medication that they need to last through the holiday season, as many clinics and doctor offices will be closed.

• Eat the right foods. Stay hydrated and eat plenty of fiber, fruits and vegetables. This can help stabilize blood sugar levels and decrease cravings for comfort foods. Do not turn to caffeine, sugary sweets and alcohol to reduce stress, as such foods and beverages may only compound the problem.

“Focus more on the fruits and vegetables,” Wingo said. “You can have the dessert. Don’t feel that you deprive yourself, but to use portion control.”

• Get ample rest. Go to bed and rise at the same time each day. Many adults function best when they get between seven and eight hours of sleep per night, and a good night’s rest can help in the fight against stress.

• Engage in activities you enjoy. Make time for activities that you like to do, such as crafts, hobbies and listening to music. Take time away from holiday tasks to give yourself a break.

• Skip the need to be perfect. Christmas movies and holiday ideals portrayed in advertisements can put undue pressure on the average person. Ignore any perceived pressure to have a perfect holiday season, instead resolving to enjoy the time with family and friends.

“My biggest advice is to remember it’s not the gifts that you give or that you receive, it’s what is the true reason for the season,” Wingo said, “and spending quality time with your family.”

“Everybody gets tied up in the hustle and bustle and having to give a gift, and how much they spend, and all of the financial stress and what have you. They need to remember it’s not the cost of the gift, it’s the thought,” Wingo said.

Julie Flores, chaplain coordinator with Centra Southside Community Hospital, encouraged people to take time to reflect on the holiday season, and what it means to them.

“As we travel through life, every chapter is different from the last. Many times, the holidays are a time of reflection and nostalgia over past seasons in life,” Flores said. “Give yourself permission for your soul to find peace and meaning in this year’s celebration regardless of your circumstances.”

Stress can impact the ability to enjoy oneself during the holidays. But stress can be overcome, even during this busy time of year.