By Tochi Okafor
Christmas is almost here.
Although considered to be the most wonderful time of the year, it subliminally comes with stress. From managing the expectations of family and friends concerning gift sizes, attending events with people you don’t necessarily want to be around or overeating and feeling heavy in January.
Yes, the holidays can become a double-edged sword if allowed to run its full course without applying the necessary breaks intermittently.
In this episode of The wellness Corner, I want to share some tips to help us to enjoy the holidays and also come out alive and well on the other side of 2020. These tips will foster your overall wellness during the highly emotionally charged Christmas holidays. Here you go.
Begin with intention: Think of the critical role an architect plays in the construction of a building and apply the same principle. If you want an enjoyable holiday then you must be deliberate about it. Design your holiday to be rejuvenating by creating a plan that works for you. Don’t allow yourself get lost in the plans of others or else you will auto-pilot through the holiday season. I recommend you decide on the kind of holiday you want to have, with consideration given to the types of activities you enjoy. Feeling out of sync with the things we want can lead to feelings of stress so, avoid that by being intentional this holiday season.
Manage your finances: Have a budget. You have worked for 11 months of the year, I am sure you don’t want to spend all your money in the 12th month. Make a simple budget, prioritize the truly necessary things. I know it is hard to walk past a big “SALE” sign but you have to remember that an extra top, shoes, trainers or handbag is not always a need. Also, you don’t need a new outfit for every party you have been invited to, you can dig up an oldie from your closet and still rock it effortlessly. There’s no greater time to be tested with our finances than during the Christmas season. Let’s remember that the holiday will end and the bills will remain. Be smart and spend wisely to avoid a stressful January.
Stay Hydrated: The party never stops. There are celebrations in every part of town. Whether it’s a company celebrating its close of the year, or a 40th birthday celebration or a group of friends deciding to make a little bit of noise, the fact is this season feeds on partying, celebrations and enjoyment. At the heart of these festivities is alcohol on free flow. Let’s just say that although alcohol is a fluid it doesn’t serve the same purpose as water. My recommendation is to be mindful that high consumption of alcohol makes you urinate more, and the more you do, the more dehydrated you become. Studies have shown that dehydration leads to an increase in cortisol levels, and cortisol is one of those stress hormones. A good way to avoid this is to drink enough water to keep your body hydrated. By all means party hard, but also stay hydrated.
Engage Meaningfully: Avoid people, places, and situations that will disrupt your positive mental state. There will be situations where you will need to be around people you haven’t hung around for a long time or people that you are obligated to visit (in-laws, extended families, old school mates, etc) and these scenarios can degenerate rather quickly if we get into them unprepared. It is necessary to realize when you have reached your threshold and excuse yourself from these scenarios before your trigger is pulled.
Get some sleep: It has been a mad traffic experience in 2019. If you have to travel a distance to work and you live in Lagos then this has probably been your reality. The holiday is a good time to restore yourself and sleep is a great way to do that. Experts say we all need an average of 7 hours of sleep a night to function optimally and, usually we aren’t privileged to get that much. There’s no better time than the holidays to catch up on quality sleep. It will be a case of double jeopardy if you fail to enjoy quality sleep during a time of less work commitment. By all means, go out with friends, have late nights, party as hard as you want but, ensure you schedule sleep also.
A final thought to add to your stress management reserves is to continually learn and improve your positive coping mechanisms. Truth is stress cannot be avoided but thankfully it is very manageable. There are many ways to deal with stress, and simple techniques practiced frequently can help. Be proactive in managing stress, don’t allow it fester and seek help when you are in over your head.
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This is my last piece before the holidays and I wish you a Merry Christmas.