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Tips to Manage Holiday Stress When Recovering From an Illness or Injury

The holiday season is an exciting time filled with parties, gift giving and lots of time with friends and family. While this all sounds great, for some people these interruptions to normal routines can be overwhelming.

Here are some tips from our Rehab Team to help manage holiday stress:

  • Pace Yourself!  Between parties, family gatherings and Christmas shopping in crowded malls, it can seem that there is no time for “down-time” during the holiday season. This can lead to feelings of anxiety, fatigue and frustration. Remember to take nights off in between social events and to schedule time for relaxing either by yourself or with one or two other people who you feel comfortable around.
  • Plan ahead. Over the holiday season, we often spend time with family members who we see only a couple of times a year. This can be stressful if you have been recovering from an accident or illness. Sometimes family members with great intentions will ask for updates on how you are recovering, whether you are back to work, etc. It can be helpful to come prepared with short, to-the-point answers. For example,  if you are asked “how’s your recovery going?” you may not want to divulge lots of details, or you may just want a break from thinking about rehabilitation. Plan to have answers ready like “I’m getting there” or “feeling better every day, just enjoying time to relax over the holidays”. These are polite and friendly responses but gently give the message that you don’t want to focus on your injury or illness.
  • Go with the flow. Disruptions to daily routines during the holiday season can be anxiety provoking. When recovering from an injury or illness, routine and order are often essential parts of daily living. Try to let yourself “go with the flow”. Keep in mind that these disruptions are temporary. Everything will get back to normal in January!
  • Make relaxation a priority. If you are feeling anxious, take time out to focus on relaxation. Strategies include deep breathing (take ten deep breaths – in through your nose and out through your mouth. Pretend you have a balloon in your diaphragm. When you inhale the balloon inflates, when you exhale the balloon deflates) and guided muscle relaxation (this involves intentionally relaxing each part of your body. You can do an internet search for this and lots of hits will come up on YouTube).
  • Reach out to a friend. Sometimes people can feel lonely during the holiday season. If you are feeling this way, it can be helpful to talk to a friend or someone else you are close to. Let them know this is a hard time of year for you and make a point of being in touch with people. Volunteering at a food bank or other holiday charity is also a good way to feel connected to others.
  • Focus on the future! The great thing about the holiday season is that a brand new year is about to begin. Spend some time thinking about what you would like to achieve in the New Year and where you would like to see yourself this time next year. This can be a motivating exercise and can help to put things in perspective.

GLA wishes you the very best for the holiday season and for a happy and healthy New Year. We look forward to another year of helping clients achieve success and recovery.