Another turn around the sun, another December, another Holiday season: the holidays are a blessing to most and agonizing to some. To set the record straight, the idea that depression rates spike during the holiday season is actually a long-perpetuated myth. The CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics reports that depressions rates are actually the lowest in December. Although this myth has been debunked by several outlets, we understand and recognize that the Holiday season can be stressful, depressing, and not so jolly. This post will help with some tips on how to overcome Holiday stress.
- Mood in a slump? Hike it up.
Hiking may seem like a winded, cold activity, but it can help get your endorphins back to where they need to be. Pick out a sunny December day, pick a hiking spot, and pick a friend or go by yourself. One of the nice parts of living in Central Pennsylvania is the availability of many beautiful winter hiking spots. Bundle up and enjoy nature during this beautiful time of the year.
- Walk away from stressors.
It’s a simple idea, but walking away from a problem helps more than we think. Walking is a repetitive activity that has a calming effect on your brain which can help alleviate your anxiety. There are studies that show that walking can be as helpful for depression as vigorous exercise. Too cold outside? Walking can help you overcome Holiday stress even if you walk indoors. Take a lap around your house or office, or stop by the Y and hop on a treadmill.
- Say no to piling on.
A Holiday reaction is to add more and more to your to-do list (buying presents, baking all of the cookies, cooking the entire meal, planning the events, buying the food, etc.), but why? The natural instinct is to say “yes,” per the Holiday spirit. But it is healthy to say no once or twice to save your stress. Maybe spring for two batches of the Hershey Kiss cookies instead of five, or delegate some housekeeping and baking to your relatives or immediate family. It could save you panic on Christmas Eve, that’s for sure.
- Keep up with your daily routine.
Caroling, baking, cooking, gingerbread houses, choir practice, pageant rehearsal, Holiday parties, baking: that was a daunting list to type, let alone accomplish in one of the busiest months of the year. Any other month of the year, we try to stick to a daily routine – wake up, eat breakfast, work, workout, dinner, sleep, repeat. There isn’t anything wrong with keeping to the rhythm of the rest of the year. To conclude, squeezing in a workout or just time to relax is worth it.
- Go tech-free.
We hear this plea through all walks of life; turning off the phone and putting it in a drawer is a task of monstrous strength. Constant streams of pings and pangs of our cell phones keep our brains in a perpetual fight-or-flight mode, making it nearly impossible to decompress after a stressful December day. Chronic stress and cell phone usage are a correlated trend; taking a break and stepping back can be more beneficial in the long run than checking Instagram for the 5th time in an hour (We are all guilty).
Everyone at the Harrisburg Area YMCA wants to help you have the happiest holiday yet and overcome Holiday stress. We stand by the idea that community, exercise, and group activities are the best way to alleviate your holiday blues. Whether it’s by joining a class, taking a program, jumping on an elliptical, or even sitting in the lobby with a cup of coffee, the Y can help.
Happy holidays from our YMCA family to yours.
–Madeline Kelly, Digital Communications Coordinator