We all enjoy the holiday season in our own special ways. The holidays present a dizzying array of demands — parties, shopping, baking, cleaning and entertaining. These all can cause stress! It is important to be gracious with yourself and budget for the extra energy demands during the holiday season, especially when you have mitochondrial disorders. Although there may be times of stress, low energy, or outright fatigue, there are countless ways to be creative, reduce stress, and make the most out of every moment!
Tips to prevent holiday stress:
When stress is at its peak, it’s hard to stop and regroup. Be proactive (especially if the holidays have taken an emotional toll on you in the past):
- Seek professional help if you need it. Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious, fatigued, in physical pain, unable to sleep, irritable, and unable to face routine chores. If these feelings last, talk to your primary care doctor or mental health professional.
- Be realistic. The holidays don’t have to be perfect, nor will they be just like last year. Try and let yourself feel whatever emotions arise, but remember as families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well. People with and without Mito will experience this. It is part of being human. Work with your family to choose a few traditions to hold on to, and be open to creating new ones.
- Energy. Listen to your body! Take frequent breaks, ask friends for help, and keep an eye on your regulation of temperature. Be sure to hydrate and eat healthy snacks to help extend your energy reserves.
- Stick to a budget. Before you go gift and food shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend. Try to stick to your budget.
- Plan ahead. Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, visiting friends and other activities, with designated rest days or breaks. Plan your menus, so you don’t have to make extra trips to the store. If you are hosting a gathering, ask family or friends to come early or stay late so they can help with prep or clean-up. This will give you more time together and help reduce fatigue after an event.
- Learn to say no. Saying yes when you know it is too much for you to take on, can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and colleagues will understand if you can’t participate in every project or activity. If it’s not possible to say no when your boss asks you to work overtime, try to remove something else from your agenda to make up for the lost time.
- Stick to your regular healthy habits. Simple things like getting plenty of sleep, incorporating regular physical activity, and maintaining your fluid intake can have such a positive impact on your body! Also, eating a healthy snack before holiday parties can help you prevent going overboard on sweets or drinks.
- Take a breather. Make some time for yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. Clearing your mind, slowing your breathing and restoring inner calm can reduce your stress.
Try these suggestions:
- Take a walk at night to look at holiday lights.
- Listen to soothing music.
- Get a massage.
- Reading a book with a cup of tea.
- Lay down, close your eyes, and think about 3 things you appreciate.