Last-minute reminders for enjoying the holiday season
At no other time of year do we require such fine balancing of all our occupations. On top of work — paid or volunteer — home responsibilities, child rearing, and sometimes elder care, we now add entertaining, gift giving, house guests, and more. Occupational therapists believe that engaging in meaningful activity can increase one's health and well-being. However, trying to balance too many activities leads to stress and prolonged stress leads to physical illness. For some this can result in a chronic illness such as heart disease.
By now people are in the thick of the holiday season and pre-planning to decrease stress is probably too late. Nevertheless the following occupational therapy strategies may help you to keep stress to a minimum and enjoy the holidays.
Keep expectations realistic.
Decide what is most important to you and let the other things slide. Why not send Happy New Year notes versus Season's Greetings cards. Friends and family will be glad to hear from you at any time of year.
If you anticipate this may be an emotional time for you and your family due to a recent death in the family, serious illness, or divorce, talk together about what would feel best for all of you, and adjust your celebrations accordingly. Don't add to the stress by ignoring your feelings.
Don't overdo it
Bake, decorate and exchange gifts for fun and enjoyment. Eat and drink in moderation and encourage others to do the same. Participate in a cookie exchange, decorate while enjoying some hot chocolate around the fire, set limits on gifts, eat smaller portions so you can try everything without overeating, and don't drink and drive.
Feel free to say "no"
If you are invited to a party, consider dropping in for a couple of hours rather than spending the entire afternoon or evening. Take time for your own social, spiritual and physical needs. Use the holidays to relax, catch up with friends and family, and re-energize for the coming year.
Hate to cook?
Order your turkey and the rest of the meal from your local grocery store or bakery. All you'll have to do is pick it up after a relaxing morning opening presents.
A time for everyone
You don't have to do it all! Children can help tidy up, bake cookies, even wrap some presents. Don't worry if things aren't just the way you would have done them - enjoy the variation, it may be a new tradition in the making. Try gift bags. No wrapping is required and they are environmentally friendly.
Get some fresh air
Don't neglect your regular exercise program. It can reduce stress and help burn those extra calories you've consumed.
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