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Holiday Stress, mother and daughter baking

How To Handle Holiday Stress

Holiday stress is nothing new. Holidays bring a whirlwind of emotion and demands. Whether you’re shopping, entertaining, hosting, baking, or all four at the same time, it’s no wonder that depression rates spike around the winter season. Holiday stress and winter blues are very real issues that plague a variety of individuals, especially in the Midwest, each year.

We’ve compiled a few simple tips for keeping stress levels down in the winter months.

Get out of the house.

Lack of sunlight is what causes a great deal of the winter blues. And if you’re cooped up inside all day, not only are you cutting yourself off from all the serotonin benefits that vitamin D offers, but you’ll also feel more overwhelmed without a change of scenery. Get out for a walk in the sunshine as much as you can in the winter, even a few minutes a day will make a difference.
If your schedule simply doesn’t allow you to step outside in the winter during the limited daylight hours, then plan family outings to restaurants for dinner, or take a drive to look at Christmas lights at the local park. Getting out of the house and being around other people, even if you’re not interacting, will boost your mood.

Make Time for You

It can’t be said enough: Exercise. Get a massage. Don’t try to do it all. Set aside time to do things for you. Organize your to-do list and don’t commit to more than you can handle. Staying organized and on top of your schedule greatly reduces your stress level.

Increase Face-to Face Interaction

Put down the cell phone. Take a few hours a day (and when you’re asleep doesn’t count) to power down and step away from the demands of your schedule. Planning out an activity without actually sitting down to discuss it with someone makes it more hectic for everyone involved.
In a similar vein, when you’re asking for help with an activity, don’t send out a group text or email. Sit down with a friend over coffee and explain why help would be appreciated. Your friend will be more likely to help if you ask in person.

Watch Your Diet

Winter is a sneaky season. One sign of SAD that many individuals know about, but often don’t notice until it’s too late, is a craving for food with high levels of carbohydrates (think chocolate and pasta). We’ve all heard the term “holiday weight,” but is that really the case? Some individuals suffering from SAD can gain from 10-15 lbs in a winter season! So when you’re reaching for the cookies, consider these options instead:

  • Eat more spicy food. They’ve been shown to trigger endorphins.
  • Honey. Honey contains antioxidants and boosts your immune system. This is even more important in the wintertime when flu season is at its peak.
  • Breakfast before coffee. We’ve all gotten that jittery irritability after downing our morning coffee without any food in our stomach. When you’re dealing with stress from the holidays, it’s even more important to make time for breakfast.

There is a big difference between holiday stress and full-blown Seasonal Affective Disorder. The winter season, accompanied by lack of sunlight and a never-ending to-do list can take a toll, and Choices Psychotherapy can help.

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About Choices Psychotherapy

Choice is the foundation for a change. Choice speaks to the reality that there is not one right answer for all.  At Choices Psychotherapy, we are committed to empowering clients and their families to identify options while assisting in creating a personal roadmap toward health and recovery.

Related: Stress Management