We seem to have a love-hate relationship with the holidays.
We love the festivities, the parties, the shows, the elegant lighting. We despise the stress of buying gifts, rushing to complete every last detail, the chaos of travel, the obligation to be where you’re told when you’re told
According to a December 2021 poll from the American Psychiatric Association, 41% of Americans say their stress increases during the holidays. Only 7% say it decreases. A 2006 study found that almost half of women experience stress during the holidays, while a 2018 poll found that 88% of Americans feel stressed during the season of giving.
Clearly, we need to care for ourselves during the holidays.
Gift-giving, of course, is a major part of the season, and while giving is a wonderful way to connect with friends and family, and to truly show your appreciation for others, you need to take care of yourself. It can’t all be about other people; you need to remember your own personal wellbeing, both mental and physical.
Taking Care of Yourself While Giving Gifts to Others: Easy Ideas for Less-Stress Holiday
Whether you are focused on mental wellbeing or physical health, here are a few tips for taking care of yourself while giving gifts to others…
Physical Activity, Every Day
The negative correlation between physical activity and stress is well documented. The Anxiety & Depression Association of America says that “exercise is…considered vital for maintaining mental fitness, and it can reduce stress.” They cite a variety of studies demonstrating how exercise and physical activity can reduce fatigue, improve alertness, and enhance overall mental function, which is, as they say, “especially helpful when stress has depleted your energy or ability to concentrate.”
During the rush of the holiday season, it’s probably best to do your physical activity right away. If you start your day with a healthy workout (whatever is best for your fitness level), you’ll be mentally and physically prepared for the never-ending activity of the holidays.
Another important aspect of taking care of yourself is hydration. Whether you’re shopping for last-minute gifts or giving them on Christmas morning, staying hydrated will help you decrease the risk of depression and anxiety throughout the holiday season.
One interesting study, a 2014 project from French and American researchers, found that people who normally drink a high amount of water but decreased their intake had a decrease in contentedness, calmness, and positive emotions. On the other hand, people who normally drink low amounts, then increased their intake, had less fatigue, less confusion, and lower levels of sleepiness.
When rich eating holiday foods and partaking in strong holiday libations, it’s all the more essential to care for yourself by consuming plenty of water and hydrating fluids.
Indulge in Moderation
Speaking of holiday food and drink, remember to indulge moderately. Of course you can enjoy a holiday meal, sneak a cookie, and visit the punch bowl, but remember that moderation will help you feel better.
When we think of overeating, we often think of our waistline. However, eating too many calories can actually increase your chances of memory loss. It could even cause mild cognitive impairment.
Reward Yourself With Something Relaxing and Enjoyable
Finally, we would encourage you to reward yourself. Before, during, or after the holidays, give yourself a small, healthy reward, something that you can look forward to throughout the season.
Your reward depends on you. The possibilities are limitless, and may include a massage scheduled for the post-holiday workweek, a visit to your favorite theater, or (if you’re like us) a ride through the countryside on your favorite motorcycle. Keep this small reward in mind (like a carrot at the end of a stick) so you stay motivated, healthy, and relaxed during the holidays.
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