The most stressful time of the year? You can survive the holidays


REGION — Here come the holidays. 

For many of us, there’s joy and cheer and family meals and togetherness…

And there’s the potential for a whole lot of stress.

Housecleaning. Cooking. Shopping. Feeding people. All that togetherness. Arguments about all of it and more. 

The American Psychiatric Association found in a 2022 poll that one in three Americans expected to be more stressed during the holidays than before. What do you bet the percentage has increased?

Let’s start with the overall challenges that people face. Joyce Southard, personal trainer and certified holistic nutritionist at Narrowsburg’s Chi Hive Gym & Wellness Space, enumerated some she’s seen.

“The weather is colder and days are shorter, so people aren’t as active,” Southard wrote in an email. 

From an emotional standpoint, family can add stress, there are monetary demands, and people can be lonely, she added. 

There are other worries, of course. The situation in the world and political stress can resonate at home, especially if family members disagree (there’s always that uncle).

If someone has passed away, there’s a gaping hole.

“With all the demands of the holidays [and] a greater increase in sickness, our immune systems are taxed,” Southard wrote. “We can get emotionally overwhelmed and either become irritable or withdraw and get depressed. Stress takes a toll on every aspect of our well-being.”

In many ways, holiday-related stress is our own, dependent on our own situations. But there are tips that can help, and resources in the area that can make the season a whole lot easier.

Pay attention to nutrition

“The holidays are challenging nutritionally with all the holiday get-togethers, baking, etc.,” Southard wrote.

It’s hard to avoid temptation, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) acknowledges. But you can look for ways to make healthy choices, or try a healthier option than that pecan pie. 

Start with a healthy breakfast, then as the day goes on, don’t forget fruits and vegetables.  

And hydrate. Drinking a glass of water can sometimes stop the urge to munch. 

Embrace the quiet

Quiet times and meditation can make a difference, Southard wrote. 

Try journaling. Per, journaling helps to document and get in touch with your feelings. The journal is a place for your anger, your hurt—and for a list of the things you want to change.

Southard recommended getting some physical activity. “It doesn’t have to be strenuous,  but it boosts endorphins, decreases stress levels and boosts the immune system.”

Nourish yourself

It’s really the goal of wellness, and is critically important during the holidays.

“You are nourished and caring for yourself emotionally, physically and nutritionally,” Southard wrote.  “It doesn’t mean looking a certain way, because we are all different, but it means you feel nourished and whole in all aspects. It’s an ongoing process.”

Take a class or workshop

There’s nothing like getting out of your home and joining a group working toward the same goals. 

Consider the Chi Hive Gym & Wellness Space. Joyce Southard runs a Navigating the Holidays workshop to address holiday stress. 

And look beyond the holidays too.

“I feel like holiday stress often spills over into the winter, and then people are dealing with the winter doldrums,” Southard wrote. The Chi Hive will continue classes over the winter, “to get people out and feel less isolated, and get moving in a fun and positive way.” and also contributed to this story.

Yoga, Chi Hive, Be Well, Wellness, holidays,


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