The Mayo Clinic, one of the most venerable institutions in America, has published a comprehensive list of ways to deal with holiday-related stress, which are summarized here. Whether a person’s area of difficulty lies in over-drinking, excessive food consumption, body-focused repetitive behaviors, inappropriate anger, or any number of other unhealthy manifestations, stress management is of paramount importance. And sure, we have all heard many of these familiar hints before, but a refresher course can’t hurt.
This year we carry an extra load of stress due to the coronavirus pandemic. A lot of people have been sick themselves, and many have tragically lost family members and friends to the disease. Childhood Obesity News has mentioned the numerous ways in which obesity and COVID aid and abet each other, and bereavement is an experience that many people respond to by accumulating kummerspeck, or “grief bacon.”
At the same time, some people are so economically challenged they can barely subsist, and others are restricted from traveling or spending in the accustomed holiday spirit. Add to this the unavoidable fact that a tremendous number of people find the holidays painful and depressing even in the most prosperous times, because of unprocessed emotional trauma from the past.
What does the Mayo Clinic staff recommend? A good first step is to honestly acknowledge our feelings. If we belong to any support groups, now is a good time to check in with them. Online resources can be amazing for this.
Adaptation as a survival trait
We might have to do things differently. Sometimes it just can’t be helped, so might as well face it with an attitude of acceptance. If we can’t get together with loved ones in person, we might have to learn how to use a new computer application.
Remember that people themselves are one of the circumstances we are called upon to adapt to. Frazzled and frustrated as we may feel, it’s possible that a relative or friend is dealing with even more disagreeable emotions, and we need to cut them some slack.
An important adaptation is the realization that we can’t say yes to everything. This is true in any year, but especially now when the pandemic is still a very real presence. Loved ones and true friends should understand if a person is reluctant to travel, or even to play host to visitors. COVID-19 has a lot of tricks up its sleeve, and no one should be shamed for making their own health a priority.
Whatever events are on the agenda, try to plan rationally and make allowance for obstacles. Make lists. For some reason, writing out a to-do list by hand seems to make more of an impression on the brain, than doing it electronically.
Like a lot of other timelessly true precepts, this next tip is corny as heck:
Volunteering your time or doing something to help others also is a good way to lift your spirits and broaden your friendships. For example, consider dropping off a meal and dessert at a friend’s home during the holidays.
That particular tip has the added advantage of moving some tempting food out of your reach!
(To be continued…)
Your responses and feedback are welcome!
Source: “Stress, depression and the holidays: Tips for coping,” MayoClinic.org, undated
Image by Oliver Henze/CC BY-ND 2.0