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Taming Stress During the Holiday Season

mother and son embracing under Christmas tree

The joy of the holiday season can be infectious. There’s so much to celebrate, family to see, meals to prepare. But often this joy can get lost in the stress of everything that needs to be done. Instead of a time of wonder, the holidays become a list of must-dos.

If you try to ignore this feeling, it only gets worse. With expectations riding on you, you put in late nights tying ribbons on packages and stringing lights. But this “perfect” holiday means your stress skyrockets.

This year you may be able to cut through the stress. The Well-Being Coaching Program of Active&Fit Direct can ease your stress and help you navigate the holidays.

Meet LaToya White, Well-Being Coach

LaToya White is a Well-Being Coach in Health Management Lifestyle at American Specialty Health. She says that coaching can help you “not only successfully navigate the holidays but also life itself.

“As a working mom and wife, the holidays are a very busy time for my family. I have learned that early morning workouts before the rest of the house awakes let me have quiet time alone for both my workout and prayer and meditation before tackling the day.”

She says that she is a planner and organizer. She utilizes a handful of organizational strategies to keep her on track. “From my work calendar, phone calendar, white board in the kitchen for family events, to my fancy yearly planner, I use it all!”

How you and your coach work together on your stress level

You and your Well-Being Coach work on your goals for the holidays. What do you want to achieve? By using openended questions, coaches avoid the “should” and “you need to” approach. Your coach will look for what may work better for you as you go into the season.

As White explains, “Coaches do not give a blueprint or specific plan for members to follow. Rather, coaches help members with making their own stress management plan.”

You and your Well-Being Coach will make a personal health plan that will help you with your overall health and wellness goals. Having a mentor and guide will help you tackle the challenges of the holiday season.

Identifying the sources of holiday stress

Stress during the holiday season can come from many sources. Coaches can help members in understanding the different types of stress. You can learn more about:

  • How to identify stress signs and triggers
  • The ways stress can affect your body
  • Your thought process as it relates to stress

Some common causes of holiday stress boil down to:

  • Expecting too much of yourself
  • Keeping track of more activities than normal
  • Neglecting self-care
  • Dealing with difficult emotions (loneliness and grief)

When addressed, each of these pain points can be helped. Here’s a closer look at each.

Lowering expectations to elevate joy

This may be the year to simplify your vision of decorating, wrapping gifts, or throwing a big party. If you are stressed by the expectations you put on yourself, it may be time to pare down. You may enjoy the season more if you let go of some of these expectations.

And a coach can help you think through what’s important and what can take a backseat. For instance, prioritize: Decorate your main living area but leave the side rooms alone. Host a potluck instead of an elaborately cooked meal. Perhaps your holiday is not complete without the tall Christmas tree hung with ornaments in your favorite color scheme. Instead, pare back.

This is a good time to call on your coach to help you make these decisions.

How is your activity calendar looking?

Your calendar may be jam-packed for the holidays. And all the activities seem crucial. But packing your days with more than you can accomplish, only adds to your stress. This can take a toll on your body. 

Having a plan can help lower your stress. Perhaps you can spread out some of the activities or even opt out of some events. You may even want to add more relaxing time to your calendar. Plan a family holiday movie night. Or meet a friend for coffee. Purposely slow down.

Decide to keep up your self-care

When the holiday season ramps up, you may be tempted to cut back on self-care. But self-care is one key to relaxation. It can also boost your mental and physical health. If you are highly stressed, a bath or nap can help put you at ease. You may also feel more grounded after doing yoga or taking a walk. Moving your body is one of the best things you can do for your mental health. And your self-care during the busy season may be as easy as belly breathing for 5 minutes.

Planning for self-care will aid you in handling stress. White used the example of a first-time mom going back to work. “Through coaching she was able to create a self-care plan that consisted of working out, pre-planning meals, and following a nighttime routine. This self-care plan helped ensure she was feeling her best self as a mom and at work.”

No matter the cause of stress, self-care can help you handle it.

woman reading and drinking coffee on Christmas morning

Dealing with difficult emotions

If you are struggling with grief or loneliness, your coach can talk with you about ways to cope and lessen the hurt.

Holidays magnify grief and can be reminders of loss. If it’s your first season without a loved one, memories can be especially hard to handle. Instead, your coach might suggest that you gather with family or friends and have a time of honoring your loved one. You might want to tell stories from the past or highlight personality traits.

Coping with stress differs for everyone. But personalized coaching can help you pinpoint ways to lower your stress. And when you get your stress under control, you can then focus on rekindling your holiday cheer.

Once the holiday season is over

After the holidays, you can move into other areas of health and wellness with your Well-Being Coach. You can even keep the same coach. “Members can keep working with their coach after reaching their stress management goals,” White says. “Members can take part in coaching in the areas of fitness as well as nutrition. These areas may even come up while working on stress management.”

White does have one caveat about continued coaching. “Members can keep on meeting with their coach after the holidays for stress management. But it is important to note that coaches are not licensed or trained counselors/ therapists. If a member’s stressors are beyond the scope of our coaching programs, coaches will work with members on identifying this.”

White says that coaches can help the member with getting linked to the right services and resources, such as a trained health care provider.

Why coaching?

White says the most rewarding aspect to being a coach is, “…supporting and walking along side members as they work towards improving their health and wellness. It brings me joy when I get to remind my members, they are creative, resourceful, and whole and that not only allows them to develop but continuously use new habits/tools they can maintain beyond coaching.”

How you can be a part of the well-being coaching program

As a member of Active&Fit Direct, one-on-one coaching is a feature of the program and comes at no extra cost. Enroll in the Active&Fit Direct program through your company website link. Log into Active&Fit Direct and call the phone number at the bottom of your Dashboard to enroll. Simply sign up and get started enriching your life with this program benefit.

“Give it a try,” says White. “We all need a personal cheerleader. Even the coach has a coach!”

About the Author

The Active&Fit DirectTM program is a flexible and affordable fitness membership program designed to let you work out your way, with discounted gym membership options, at-home workout videos, and more. The program is available to millions of eligible members nationwide through employer groups, health plans, and benefit hubs.

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