Unrealistic Expectations, Unhealthy Habits Can Take Toll on Your Body
A famous Christmas carol calls it “the most wonderful time of the year,” but for many people, the holiday season is the most stressful time of the year. But by taking a few steps back and setting realistic expectations, people can do a lot to ease their holiday stress load.
“I tell all my patients who come in stressed out to just relax,” said Rick Kiraly, a family nurse practitioner at Waushara Family Physicians-Plainfield. “They need to remember what the season is about and focus on spending time with family and doing good deeds for others. You don’t need to buy into the hype out there that everything needs to be perfect.”
That’s something Pam Alf, wellness coordinator with Community Health Network, agrees with. She said many people set themselves up for failure with unrealistic expectations. “Think about it: Do you really need to bake 25 kinds of cookies?” she said. “Maybe you can join a cookie exchange so you get that variety or just make your family’s absolute favorites.”
When things do get busy, Kiraly said it’s important to not forget healthy habits, such as eating a balanced diet and exercising. “It’s ok to splurge a little, but don’t throw everything out the window,” he said.
Alf added that exercise is a great stress buster. “If you’re exercising daily, don’t stop. Keep at it since it will help with the stress,” she said. “If you don’t have an exercise plan, try to get in walks when you can. You’ll find that it really helps.”
Alf said it’s important to drink plenty of water since you can start to drag if you’re not well hydrated. And stick to water – loading up on caffeine or overdoing alcohol are not healthy ways to deal with stress.
Another good piece of advice is taking time for enjoyable activities, Kiraly said. “The holidays should be a fun time,” he said. “If you’re spending too much time working, then you need to take a closer look at what you’re doing and figure out what you can change.”
Alf said it’s important to listen to your body during the holidays. “If you’re having a lot of headaches or stomach problems, that’s probably a sign you are stressed out. You shouldn’t let stress control you,” she said. “If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a step back and re-evaluate. You should be enjoying what you’re doing. If you’re not, then you should change what you’re doing.”
ThedaCare™ is a community health system consisting of seven hospitals: Appleton Medical Center, Theda Clark Medical Center, ThedaCare Medical Center-New London, Shawano Medical Center, Riverside Medical Center in Waupaca, Berlin Memorial Hospital, and Wild Rose Community Memorial Hospital. ThedaCare also includes ThedaCare Physicians, ThedaCare Behavioral Health, and ThedaCare At Home. ThedaCare is one of the largest employers in Northeast Wisconsin with more than 6,800 employees. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.