The holidays are supposed to be a fun time for celebrating with family and friends. But they can also become hectic and stressful. The race to complete your shopping and shipping, plus the headaches that can come with travelling or entertaining, can leave seniors feeling stressed out and flat.
If you’re a senior living in Cincinnati who is feeling the pressure this holiday season, we empathize. And today, we’d like to share with you some excellent tips for managing holiday stress.
1. Speak up when you feel overwhelmed
Younger family members may know that older loved ones can tire more easily than they do, but they may not understand how quickly that can happen. So they plan a lot of holiday get-togethers, late dinners, days out with the grandchildren during holiday vacations — in short, they try to pack too much into a short period.
Some seniors have difficulty reaching out to their family members to let them know when they feel overwhelmed. They might fear letting family members down or becoming a worry to them.
But it’s important to know your limits and not overstretch your resources — not only for your mental health, but also for your physical health. Stress can quickly run your body’s defenses down, making illness more likely to occur.
Don’t try to make every family event. Pick and choose carefully. Don’t be afraid to skip dessert and leave a holiday dinner party early, or to decline an invitation or two. Only you know how you feel — protect your energy level and your health.
During the holiday season, it’s easy to overindulge on sweets, fatty foods and other less-than-ideal offerings. For seniors, it’s very important to maintain healthy dietary practices during the winter.
By avoiding too many sweets and getting plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and clear fluids, you fortify your body’s ability to fight off common winter illnesses like colds, influenza and strep throat, which are more prevalent at this time of year due to holiday get-togethers and more hours spent indoors, where the air doesn’t circulate as freely.
Try to lay off the egg nog as much as possible. Avoiding alcohol will also keep your head clear, giving you better ability to manage stressful situations, should they crop up at gatherings.
3. Be careful of the sweets — especially if you suffer from age-associated chronic diseases
Eating a lot of sweets and high-carbohydrate foods can also be dangerous for seniors who suffer from diabetes, which inhibits the body’s ability to regulate its blood glucose level, or other chronic illnesses like heart disease, high blood pressure or metabolic syndrome.
They can also worsen your mood, because they physically tax your body and cause it to expend energy on regulating metabolism.
That’s not to say that you can’t enjoy the occasional Christmas cookie or two over the course of the season. Just keep careful track of how much you indulge, drink extra water and get in some extra walks or other light exercise when you do. Water and light exercise can help your body offset the additional sugar intake and avoid a glucose spike.
If you’re an insulin-dependent diabetic, make sure that you closely monitor your blood sugar. Don’t leave home without your finger-stick blood sugar monitor and your insulin.
And if you feel dizzy, confused, overly emotional, inexplicably sleepy, or otherwise “off” after eating a holiday meal, don’t hesitate to check your blood sugar — all these can be signs that your glucose is spiking. Seek prompt medical attention if your blood sugar is too high.
4. Ask family members for help getting things done
It’s a lot to ask of a senior — running around to complete the shopping, cleaning the house, going to the grocery in advance of a family party, in addition to all the normal tasks of daily living. And you shouldn’t have to do it all on your own.
If you’re planning on hosting the family at your home or at your retirement community apartment, ask a family member to come help you prepare, or to drive you to the store and help with the shopping. They won’t mind helping out, and it gives you additional, stress-reducing time spent with each other.
Stay in touch with your inner self this holiday and avoid becoming stressed out.
If you’re a senior living in Cincinnati who is feeling overwhelmed by the holiday, know that you’re not alone. Use the tips above to stay stress-free and enjoy the “most wonderful time of the year!”