November Injury Prevention

Holidays, stress and coping strategies

The holidays are coming, and two things are certain: lots of food and fun, and lots of family gatherings partner with the pending season. While this is what many of us come to expect, regrettably, it won’t be true for everyone. In many situations losses will be mourned, and for some, the financial downturn will prevent extravagances that have been enjoyed in the past.

With these stressors and others in mind, we need to be sure to maximize the positive experiences we have and to utilize coping strategies. Now is the time to start thinking about how you will handle the holidays so that you are prepared and able to remain in control of good habits you may have developed over the year.

Simply, it is most helpful when chaos doesn’t become the order of the holidays. Planning and collaboration helps everyone keep cool with others. One of the best ways to enjoy these times is to keep as much routine as possible in your life. That includes still spending quality time with family members, maintaining an exercise schedule, continuation of the eating plan that has worked well for you all year, and still getting at least 6-8 hours of sleep per night. Research shows that if the routine continues with only minimal changes, the expectations of the holidays are more often met.

Sadness and disappointment around the holidays often stems from unmet expectations. This is a powerful concept and is often not recognized for the importance it plays in our lives. The holidays are expected to make all that’s wrong right, and that rarely happens. Instead of creating unrealistic expectations, surround yourself with those things most important to you. It’s not necessary to attend every party or to have several different kinds of treats ready for company at all times. Pick one or two special parties or goodies that you’ll really enjoy.

To fully enjoy this year’s holiday season, consider incorporating the following stress reduces to avoid an overwhelmed feeling:
  • If you are hosting the holiday meal, pre-plan the meal and then enlist help from other family members. It’s also less of a financial burden than paying for the whole meal yourself.
  • Decide on how much you’re going to decorate. Can you combine some decorations for November and December holidays? Which decorations are must-haves?

In sum, keep it simple and don’t go overboard or become so overwhelmed. Decisions made ahead of time are only guidelines, so if it becomes necessary to alter your plan, remember this is one or two days out of a lifetime. If you maintain control, no one will remember the change. Rather, they will remember your composure, despite any issues or last-minute changes.

Happy holidays from St. John Trauma Services and Injury Prevention!

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