COLORADO SPRINGS– The holiday season is, without a doubt, somehow both the most magical and most stressful time of the year.
There’s simply too many parades, light shows, themed events, work and family parties, possibly church events and more to participate in.
Regional director of Health Engagement Strategies at United Healthcare Kym Kierman says that for many, stress levels skyrocket through the holidays as do feelings of grief, loss, anxiety and depression.
“Think about all the additional stressors—more things to attend, more social engagements, planning and traveling as well as financial stressors that remind you how everyone is struggling. When we put the holidays in there, it’s our chance to make our families happy. A lot of times we do that by buying gifts…which adds additional levels of stress and pressure,” Kierman said.
When it comes to losing a loved one, be it a beloved pet or family member or partner, grief can really take its toll.
“Our culture doesn’t make it comfortable to address or feelings, especially for men. It’s okay to take time to cry or express those feelings. [Grief] adds an extra level of pressure. It’s okay to talk about [your feelings] and express them,” Kierman said.
Loneliness and grief tend to pair up, so Kierman suggests seeking out a level of community that you’re comfortable with to get through the holiday season. There are all kinds of options available to you–from social media groups, in-person support groups, common interest groups and beyond–there’s a community out there for everyone.
Kierman suggests one way to cut down on the financial stressors of the season is to remind yourself that realistic goals are the keys to success.
“Holidays are always a time to picture a beautiful Christmas, but we don’t always picture family fights and other elements that can happen. The holidays don’t have to be perfect or exactly what you used to do in the past. Acknowledge that COVID-19 has changed family traditions, and that is okay,” Kierman said.
One of those realistic goals might be setting up a budget.
“Decide how much you can afford to spend and be realistic with yourself and your family. In reality, it’s just stuff. Figure out how much you can spend and go with that,” Kierman said. “Having conversations with family members is important.”
Taking some self-care time throughout the season can really pay off. Getting restful sleep, eating nutritious foods (as well as the holiday goodies) and getting an amount of exercise that your body can handle are all ways to help you stay on track this season.
“I’m not a big advocate for joining gyms if you don’t already have a membership. It’s not the only thing you need for exercising,” Kierman said. “Something as simply as parking in the farthest stop at the mall and just getting in some extra steps. Something is better than nothing.”
The holidays may always be stressful, but with these tips, perhaps you’ll have a more restful season this year, despite the chaos.