November 16, 2020

Slimdown Wellness Challenge | Coping with Holiday Stress

General Health

WELCOME to the 2020 Slimdown Challenge—the fully virtual version.

Like everything in 2020, well, we just keep on keeping on…and wonder what else we can check off our “2020 Bingo Card”.

We’re ready for another 6 weeks of accountability, bonus challenges, health information, and of course fun—and we hope you’re ready too. This Slimdown Challenge encourages participants to lose 1lb per week (6lbs total) OR to maintain weight and will have an overarching theme of “Health for the Holidays” with education and health information. We hope that the weekly topics give you ideas and opportunities to keep your health in the forefront of your thinking, and to help you feel empowered to make health changes.

The Week 1 educational topic is “Coping with Holiday Stress,” but really when you think about this year…the topic of stress management could be utilized for most weeks! Stress is something we’ve all likely experienced more of in 2020, and with the holiday season just around the corner, you may be feeling a different kind of stress while trying to plan festivities during a pandemic…on top of other stressful factors.

Let’s talk stress—when you think of stress, what do you think of? Do you think about the actual event that causes stress (getting pulled over for speeding, a fight with your friend or significant other, a Packer loss [in the Pernat household, this is a big one for my husband]) or do you do you think of the side effects—a headache, tight shoulders and back, feelings of frustration and despair, nausea, etc.—or maybe you think of both.  Stress affects us all and can have unfortunate acute or chronic side effects that hurt our health and can leave us feeling lousy.

Now, let’s take this a step further and think about holiday stress—there’s already a financial component, a party-planning component, a “I-don’t-have-enough-hours-in-the-day-to-purchase/wrap/deliver-gifts-and-make-47-holiday-meals”, and maybe even a health component with the treats and sweets.  2020 will certainly add another unique layer with feelings of worry of covid-19, isolation, missing family members, changed holiday plans, and making hard decisions for family gatherings that may cause hurt and disagreements. Whew…anyone else feeling overwhelmed thinking about this all? Me too…

Ultimately, we can’t change what’s going on around us, but we can work on making sure we keep our stress in check and to utilize various tips for stress management during the following weeks. Your stress management plan likely looks a bit different than your friend’s, significant other’s or your coworker’s, however, that’s ok because everyone is different and has different methods for coping with stress. The main thing you can do is put to practice what works for YOU, and to help keep your stress in check.

Here are a few suggestions of holiday-related stress busting techniques that you can put into practice:


Acknowledge Your Feelings

It’s ok to feel sad/update/anxious/depressed/angry/frustrated/[add other emotion here] when thinking about the changes that the 2020 holiday season will likely bring. Allow yourself to feel these feelings and recognize that it’s ok to be expressive.

If these feelings become unbearable, it’s important to talk to your health care provider or mental health professional so you are able to get the assistance you need with coping during this difficult time.

Reach out

Holiday gatherings will likely look a bit differently in the age of social distancing and group limits, but that doesn’t mean you can’t reach out to friends, family of community members for a bit of companionship and connectiveness. We’re fortunate to live in an age with many technological opportunities to stay connected, even while physically apart. Some ideas for keeping connected include social media (Facebook, Instagram), using Zoom or Skype, phone calls, texts, emails and even good ol’-fashioned letters! (who doesn’t love happy mail!).

Be Realistic

Recognize that there will be some things you can control this year, and other things you cannot, and you will have to be open to change and new traditions as plans change and evolve. If finances are a concern during the holidays, be conscientious of what you can provide and give with the time and money at hand.

Smart Parties

The holidays typical bring lots of running, and the hustle-and-bustle of parties, gatherings and the like. Large gatherings should be strongly thought about during the pandemic and the nature of the virus, and you should consider trying a new tradition this year to keep you and your family safe. If you choose to have a gather or attend, safe party-planning/attending may include:

  • Shortening the guest list
  • Encouraging mask use
  • Social distancing
  • Going virtual

Remember Health Habits

The holidays are an awesome time for lots of extra treats, goodies and snacks, but…our health doesn’t take a breather during the holidays. Overindulgences over the course of a few weeks may add not only to your waistline, but also to your stress, worry and guilt levels. Additionally, you may be out of sync with your exercise and sleep routine, which should be maintained to keep up with your goals and overall health.

Take time daily to practice your wellness habits that keep you healthy and happy—such as stress management, exercise, healthy meal/snack prep, sleep hygiene, and alcohol awareness.

Take a Breather

We’ve had a LONG road since March of 2020 when the pandemic began ramping up, and you likely feel tired, overwhelmed and like you need a break. Don’t be afraid to take time for you and to catch your breath and to recognize what you need to keep your stress in check. It’s OK to take time for you!!!

It’s easy to focus on the negatives of 2020, especially the excess stress, but when you take the time out of your day to give back to yourself through stress management and coping—it can help drop your stress levels and to keep you thinking positively about your future and health goals. Remember, we’re in this together!