Let Your Heart Be Light: Taking Care of Yourself During the Busy Holiday Season

December is often called the most wonderful time of the year – and for good reason. Visits with family and friends, exchanging gifts, sharing delicious meals and giving back to charitable causes are all great reasons to celebrate during this festive time of year. Unfortunately – for many of us – December is often the most stressful time of the year as well. Whether you’re trying to juggle a calendar overloaded with invitations and commitments, shopping til’ you drop for the perfect gifts or perhaps struggling with the recent loss of a loved one, the holidays can be an emotionally challenging time.

The good news is there a few simple things you can do amid all the hustle and bustle to help make sure that you’re taking care of yourself and minimizing the stresses of the season.

Prioritize. With party invitations, office gift exchanges, donation requests and the like, it can feel like the holidays require a graduate degree in time and money management. One of the best ways to help alleviate this is to prioritize. Make a list of your invitations and activities, and focus on the ones that matter most to you. And remember, even though it may feel counterproductive to embracing the holiday spirit, it’s okay to say “no” and avoid overcommitting yourself.

Eat healthy. The holidays are one of the most difficult times to maintain a healthy eating program, but it’s not impossible. Aiming for smaller portions of your favorite treats, planning and preparing healthy snacks and meals, avoiding mindless “grazing” and putting a heart-healthy spin on holiday favorites can help you stay on track with your healthy eating and feel good.

Connect. When planning your holiday get-togethers with friends and family, consider alternatives to the annual pressures of gift-giving. Instead of stressing over what to buy each other, consider a fun holiday activity you can do together, like ice skating, going to a movie or catching up over some hot chocolate. Chances are you’ll remember the quality time you spent with each other more than an expensive gift.

Cope. Whether you’re facing the first holiday season without a loved one or the pressure to see it all and do it all, December can be a difficult time, ripe with mental and emotional challenges and fatigue. It’s important to know that you don’t have to face the season alone, and it’s okay to ask for help. Seek comfort and support from family and friends; consider joining a local support group (visit Conemaugh.org/supportgroups); or schedule time with a mental health professional to talk through what you’re facing this season. If you don’t have one, Conemaugh Health System can help. Call 800.424.DOCS, and we’ll get you connected with the right care to help you cope.

Remembering these tips and taking the holidays one day at a time can help reduce your stress level and keep the peace and goodwill in your season. At Conemaugh Health System, we care about your health and happiness – during the holidays and all year long. We’re grateful you choose to come to us for your healthcare needs, and we wish you the happiest and healthiest of holidays.