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If Thanksgiving conjures up fears of an overcooked turkey or bickering with relatives, now is the time to pay attention to the triggers that exacerbate your stress. Are you eating more, drinking more, more agitated or feeling depressed? If so, it’s time to take care of yourself.
Zahava Davidson, LCSW, Individual and Relational Psychotherapy at NorthShore, shares some ways to manage your stress levels during the holidays and beyond by watching for these triggers:
Politics: Turn off your news feed. Social media and 24/7 news coverage of political fighting is stressful. Avoid discussing it if there is a risk it will escalate. Tune in just enough to stay informed.
Travel: Lack of sleep, packing, bad food choices and traffic can ruin the days leading up to Thanksgiving. Try to travel on off-days and times when the airways and roadways are less crowded. Pack healthy snacks. Go to bed early if you have to get up early.
Bad memories: Acknowledge that holidays can trigger depression or loneliness. If your family has recently lost a loved one, or certain relatives and friends will be out-of-town, realize that it’s normal to feel grief during the holidays. Allow yourself to feel those emotions, and seek support from the community, religious or healthcare resources.
Money woes: Stick to your budget. The cost of food, gifts, travel and entertaining during the holidays can create a financial burden that greatly adds to stress. Plan in advance how much money you can afford to spend, then stay committed to your budget. If your budget is small, create more affordable ways to celebrate such as exchanging homemade gifts or asking guests to bring a potluck dish.
Too much to do: Make a list. Finding a better way to manage your time could help you avoid those skyrocketing stress levels altogether. Prioritize your schedule. Chances are the big things are stressing you out. Which are the most important? Which will take the most time? Acknowledge they need to be done, get them out of the way and then enjoy the holidays with your family.
Feeling lethargic: Take time for yourself, go for a walk, do some deep breathing or stretching, eat healthy foods, drink lots of water, play with your children or the dog, spend time with family or friends, LAUGH!