Christmas and the days leading up to it can be a nightmare for those who are not too keen on the holiday hustle and bustle — especially for an introvert. Crowds of frantic people, running through shopping centers like the rapture is upon them, is enough to make anyone want to stay at home and lock the doors. However, it may be worth resisting the urge to curl up on your sofa and clear your Netflix queue. Even if you don’t like to shop, the holiday season is a wonderful opportunity to spend time with friends and family.
Some researchers and health professionals attribute anxiety and depression to seasonal affective disorder (SAD), or the “winter blues.” The winter blues can also be linked to the stressors associated with the holiday season. “Winter blues is a general term, not a medical diagnosis. It’s fairly common, and it’s more mild than serious. It usually clears up on its own in a fairly short amount of time,” Dr. Matthew Rudorfer, a mental health expert at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) explained in a 2013 NIH article.
There are a number of factors associated with the holiday season that can affect your mental well-being, including stress, lack of sleep, unhealthy food, and lack of exercise. The good news is, you can plan ahead and have a wonderful holiday season, enjoying time with family and friends, and maybe even enjoying the wintry weather. Here are five essential tips for the introvert — or anyone — navigating this holiday season.
It’s okay to say no. Saying yes to everything over the holidays can be overwhelming. A lot of obligations arise at this time of year, but it is okay to say no to some of them if you need time to yourself. A study published in Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences (2010) found a correlation between mental health and the ability to say no. The company Christmas party may be mandatory, but other holiday activities can be spread out to give yourself a breather.
Get acquainted with how you feel and your energy limitations. The holiday season can literally zap away your energy and cause your mood to shift. Know which activities will diminish your energy levels. Spending a weekend in search of holiday gifts can add stress and challenge your patience, whereas spending time with family and friends can make your holiday season a positive experience, according to a study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies (2002).
Make a list of ways to boost your energy. If you feel your energy decreasing this holiday season, have a few energy boosting techniques in place that can carry you into the new year. Yoga is a wonderful way to boost both physical and mental vitality, according to a study published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine (1993). The study found that 30 minutes of yoga and focused breathing had “a markedly ‘invigorating’ effect on perceptions of both mental and physical energy and increased high positive mood.”
Plan ahead and keep a realistic outlook. Planning ahead and being realistic is vital to keeping happy and healthy this Christmas season. In the time crunch of shopping, holiday parties, family obligations, and work responsibilities, planning can be challenging. It’s best to be realistic and not to plan too many things in one day. It is also important to schedule time for yourself.
Don’t let your health and fitness slip. Scheduling time for exercise and eating nutritious meals will help you to stay energized and beat stress. Staying fit and making healthy nutritional choices will make your holidays the best they can be.
A study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology (2005) found, “The evidence is overwhelming that physical activity and diet can reduce the risk of developing numerous chronic diseases, including CAD [coronary artery disease], hypertension, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and several forms of cancer, and in many cases in fact reverse existing disease.” Making healthy choices will ensure a good start to 2016.
The holidays can be loaded with obligations that eat away at your time, patience and energy. Having a plan in place, saying no when needed, boosting your energy with 30 minutes of yoga, and eating nutritious food will keep you healthy and happy this Christmas season. Don’t let stress dampen your holiday season. Skyrocket into 2016 with a healthy body and mind, filled with great holiday memories that will last until next year.
How will you enjoy this holiday season?
—The Alternative Daily