It’s a fact--the holidays can be stressful. So much so that the Holmes-Rahe Life Stress Inventory assigns 12 points to major holidays alongside such stressors as death of a spouse and loss of a job. Diane Ehren-Kipping, BSN, R.N., the Community/Employee Health & Wellness Manager at Liberty Hospital, recommends the following five tips to take care of yourself during the holidays:

  1. Practice self-care 101. Eat proper foods. Drink plenty of water. Go to bed at a decent hour. Take a walk. “Even though you’ve got lists upon lists of stuff you need to get done, none of it will be enjoyable if you’re burned out, exhausted or stressed,” Kipping said. “Take care of yourself—you’ll have a more engaged experience, and everyone around you will benefit, as well.”
  2. Set boundaries. “It’s okay to say, ‘no’ or ‘I’m not sure’ and let me get back to you’ while you figure out what you are willing to do when someone asks you to do something,” Kipping said.
  3. Carve out “me” time. “Even for just 20 minutes, think about what you can do,” she said. A few ideas: dance it out, read a book, pray or meditate, take a power nap, relax with a bath or make some time for pampering such as getting your nails done, a haircut or a new outfit.
  4. Writing out your thoughts does wonders for maintaining mental health and reducing stress, Kipping said. “It’s not always socially appropriate to say everything you want to say, but when you’re journaling, there are no rules.”
  5. Set limits on your social media time. “Instead, use some time to reflect on how you can discover, create, nurture or share the real gifts of love, joy, hope and peace during this holiday season,” said Rev. Carmen Lile-Henley, manager of pastoral care services at Liberty Hospital. “These are more valuable and meaningful than the marketplace culture’s messages of consumerism and materialism.”

The benefits of taking time for yourself may help you avoid those pesky viruses around the holidays, too. “The immune system is the body’s form of defense against germs,” Kipping said. “Stress can lower the immunity of those who otherwise might have a healthy immune system, and this may lead to someone ‘catching a bug’ when they normally would be able to fight it off.”

Find more resources on how to handle stress, take a stress relief quiz and more at Click on health resources, then articles and tools.


Living After Loss

Liberty Hospital offers a free monthly support group to help individuals and families cope with the loss of a loved one. A morning session of Living After Loss is 11:00 a.m. and an evening session is 5:30 p.m. every third Thursday of the month. The next groups meet Dec. 21 in the Doctors Building, ground floor, room 1. The address is 2521 Glenn Hendren Drive, Liberty. For more information, call 816-407-2100.