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How to Manage Stress During the Holiday Season

How to Manage Stress During the Holiday Season

I’ve always found it kind of funny how a time of year that’s meant to give so much joy can instead give so much stress. And there’s no time of year that does that more than the holiday season. It doesn’t matter what type of holidays you celebrate, there’s bound to be at least one holiday that has this affect for you.

So how can you manage your stress at those times? Over the years, I’ve learned that there are 3 different stages for managing the stress.

1. Before the chaos starts

While you may not feel particularly stressed before the holiday season sets in, there’s always a little bit of stress. That’s because you’ve learned from previous experience how stressful the holiday season can be and how that can affect you and your IBS. So there’s an anticipation of what’s likely to happen, which gets you hyper alert and waiting for the stress to start.

So during this time, try to get ahead of the impending stress and get your body and mind as calm as possible. You might like to try meditation, breathing exercises, or physical exercise such as walking or yoga. If you can start a routine where you include one of these things each day, you’ll be less stressed when the chaos begins.

2. When the chaos is happening

This is the time that we normally focus on when it comes to the stress of the holiday season – that time when you’re in the middle of the chaos and everything feels out of control. This may be in the days leading up to celebrations as you’re preparing for a big day. Or it may be on the day itself. Or more likely, both.

During the chaos, it can be hard to step back and manage the stress as it’s happening. In fact, sometimes it actually makes more sense to go along with the chaos so that you can get it over with faster. That way there’s less time for the stress to have effect.

But there are things you can do to manage stress, even if you can only spare a few minutes. For instance, you could try a simple 1-minute breathing activity, focusing on your breathing for 10 or so cycles. Another strategy that I regularly use is to get up and walk away from the chaos, finding a small pocket of calm away from everything. Even if you can only stay in that calm for a few minutes, it can do wonders.

It’s also helpful to maintain the strategies that were working for you before the chaos started (see point 1). That consistency can be very helpful for keeping your body calm.

3. After the chaos has finished

This is the time that most of us don’t think about, since the stress appears to have gone. But it takes a while for the body to destress and to recover from very stressful situations. So if you’ve been quite stressed over the holiday season, and especially if it’s taken a toll on your IBS, you need to remove all of the remaining stress so that you can get back to normal.

Again, continuing with the strategies from point 1 is helpful. In reality, most people with IBS will benefit from them at any time of the year.

But it also helps to have one or two quiet days planned where it’s unlikely that anything else will add stress to your day. That of course isn’t always possible if you have family around, but removing as much from your day as possible can be really beneficial.

And if your IBS was triggered by the stress, which is likely, you’ll need to allow time for the things that will calm your tummy. This might mean time to cook safe foods, extra time to sleep, or chill out time with a heat pack on your belly.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.