Most people look forward to the holidays for fun get-togethers and indulgent meals. This year, however, is different due to the active COVID-19 cases. The prevalence of the virus has created new challenges that need to be overcome, along with the usual rigors of the season. Learn more about identifying and treating stress symptoms and reach out to an urgent care physician if you need further help.
What Are the Common Signs of Holiday Stress?
Holiday stress manifests as physical and mental symptoms. When under pressure, an individual will often tense their neck and shoulder muscles without even realizing it. Doing so excessively will often lead to persistent body aches.
Holiday preparation can be time-consuming and feel endless, leading to tension headaches. It can also create anxiety, a rapid heartbeat, and overthinking, which can cause sleeplessness. Without proper rest, the body and mind stay in a tensed state, worsening physical discomfort. The longer the symptoms persist, the more likely they are to contribute to irritability and depression.
What Are Common Sources of Stress During the Holidays?
On average, couples will have at least seven arguments during the holidays. A survey found that 35% of couples disagree on where to spend the holidays, and 31% were split on the spending limit on gifts. Others experienced stress over determining who cooks, cleans, who would be the designated driver, and how to decorate the home.
Gatherings themselves can also cause stress. Family members often disagree during discussions on politics and finances. While there will be fewer parties this year, the topics may still be broached during a phone or video call.
How Can You Relieve Physical Stress During the Holidays?
The holidays are tied to large meals across several parties. Approximately 85% of Americans overeat during the holidays, with 61% eating to the point of physical discomfort.
Many holiday meals are heavy in carbohydrates and sugar. Consuming too much will cause blood sugar levels to increase. The body responds by releasing excessive amounts of insulin. It provides an energy spike, but an exhausting crash follows it.
The body also secretes hydrochloric acid to kill bacteria and speed up digestion. When people overeat, more acid is secreted, which then causes heartburn. Omeprazole OTD tablets prevent heartburn, but overeating can still lead to unhealthy weight gain.
Rather than denying yourself meals you've waited all year for, engage in portion control. Moderation allows you to enjoy what you love without negatively impacting your health.
Alcohol is like food, as it's best consumed with moderation. Hard beverages are high in calories, and many cocktails rely on sweeteners to mask the alcohol's flavor. Avoid heavy drinks, like beer and eggnog, and nurse your glass over a more extended period.
Drinking coffee to sober up is a myth, but caffeine is useful in another way. A recent study suggests that four cups of coffee a day will limit weight gain and cholesterol. However, too much coffee increases your heart rate and causes anxiety. Speak to your primary or urgent care doctor before adding more coffee to your diet.
If more coffee isn't feasible, exercise daily before Thanksgiving and through New Year's. Put your COVID-19 mask on and take a 30-minute walk each day. The break will clear your mind, which can relieve depression and anxiety. From a physical standpoint, these brief walks enhance cardiovascular health and will strengthen bones. The movement can also limit or even prevent seasonal weight gain.
Running can also be beneficial, as the exertion stimulates the body. Neurotransmitters like endorphins will be released, providing a natural flood of positive emotion. The body might also produce mood- and sleep-enhancing chemicals, such as dopamine and serotonin.
How Can You Relieve Mental Stress During the Holidays?
Hosting adds pressure to the holidays, as many strive for perfection. Stress levels may be even higher this year due to anxiety caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. Understand that perfection is impossible under any circumstances, let alone during a pandemic.
Interactions with friends or family may not live up to expectations. While you may have disagreements about current events, there's a good chance these conversations are being intensified by holiday-related stress and anxiety on everyone's part. Choose to air grievances at a more appropriate time. Use the holidays to appreciate the positive impact these people have on your life.
People often make drastic and unrealistic New Year's resolutions. If the goals aren't reached, many fall into depression. You can prevent adverse reactions by setting your sights smaller. If the goal is to quit smoking or lose weight, don't try it all at once. Cut back week to week and then day-to-day. You can also make an appointment with an urgent care physician who can provide smoking cessation and weight loss tips.
The holidays are financially straining for everyone. Many experience anxiety from running up their credit cards, which may take months to pay off. During COVID-19, many have sustained further financial setbacks. Purchase inexpensive but creative gifts that will resonate with loved ones on a personal level. If money is tight, acts of service and kindness are always appreciated. Affection isn't about the money you spend; it's about the amount of time you devote to others.
Many people won't be able to spend the holidays with friends and loved ones this year as they did in the past. Even if it's possible, people still tend to feel isolated or lonely during the holidays. Reach out to a friend or family member who you can rely on for support. Instead of texting, call, or video chat with loved ones. Hearing somebody's voice and seeing their face will provide more intimacy and a sense of normalcy.
There are also online support groups and virtual events where you can safely interact with others who are experiencing similar issues or share the same interests.
The holidays may be different this year, but some of the same stressors remain. For over 20 years, the physicians at Urgent & Primary Care have helped patients in Albany, NY, and its surrounding areas treat their holiday stress. They will diagnose the source of the issue and create a personalized plan of action in a calm and welcoming environment. For more information on their urgent care services, visit their website. To schedule an appointment, call them at (518) 463-8262.