Holiday health and self-care

Check out these tips and resources that will help you minimize stress and amp up the enjoyment

Laughing woman carries her young son piggyback in a snowy park


This content is provided to Johns Hopkins employees through a partnership with CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield.

The holiday season can be a difficult time of the year, owing to added demands causing more stress than normal. When stress is at its peak, it can be difficult to stop and regroup. It's important to arm yourself with the right set of tools and coping mechanisms to minimize stressors and ultimately make the holidays more enjoyable for yourself and your loved ones. Here's a checklist of tips and resources to help keep you on track.

Managing holiday stress

Create a budget. Before purchasing gifts, food, and decorations, decide how much money you can afford to spend and stick to that number. Map out a plan before going shopping so you will not go over budget.

Stick to your daily routine. Keeping up with your healthy habits will minimize potential stress and guilt for overindulgence. Make a pact with yourself during the holidays to move more, limit sweets, or even start each day with a healthy breakfast.

Stay active. Don't be too hard on yourself if you miss a workout because of holiday activities or unpredictable winter weather. Instead, sprinkle in movement like a lunch-break walk during the day, or when the kids get home, squeeze in some active chores or a trip to the park.

Take time for yourself. Find an activity you enjoy, or even just take a few minutes alone to relax and recharge.

Self-care: Prioritize you

Know and respect your limits. While holiday to-do lists can be fun, they also can be emotionally draining. It's important to set boundaries and not overextend yourself during this time. Remember that it's OK to say no.

Be extra giving to yourself. The holidays are a time when we often look outward and appreciate the family and friends in our life. While this is important, you also can't forget about yourself. Take time to treat yourself to something that will support your mental health or encourage a new healthy hobby.

Rest up. Adults need seven-plus hours of sleep each night. Get some tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Decorate for comfort. Create a peaceful space for yourself by choosing colors that give you a sense of happiness and calm.

Find ways to give back. Helping others is a great way to make a positive impact and provides a sense of purpose.

Maintaining your mental health during the holidays

Practice self-compassion. The more you learn to treat yourself with patience and kindness, the better equipped you are to extend compassion to others.

Accept your needs. Put your own mental and physical well-being first. Recognize your triggers to help you prepare for stressful situations.

Write a gratitude list. As we near the end of 2022, reflect on what and who you are grateful for. Gratitude has been shown to improve mental health.

Set boundaries. Sometimes family dynamics can be complex. Accept them and acknowledge that you are the only one you can control.

Practice relaxation. Deep breathing and meditation are good ways to calm and recenter yourself during a stressful time. Taking a break to reset can have benefits that surpass just the immediate moment.

JHU resources

Get support navigating the emotional and even financial ups and downs of the holidays by contacting the Johns Hopkins Employee Assistance Program. As a Hopkins employee, you or a household family member can reach out to JHEAP 24/7/365 to access confidential counseling and referral services. Call 888-978-1262.

Watch the on-demand webinar Stress Buster: Managing and Taking Control of Your Life to learn some helpful strategies. It will be available on demand starting at noon on Wednesday, Dec. 21. Go to Online Seminars from the JHEAP/CCA website (company code: JHEAP). You do not need to register in advance to attend online seminars. You can view the audiovisual presentation, and download the audio transcript, on or after the scheduled day and time.

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