Heightened anxiety is already a common factor for many individuals with pulmonary hypertension (PH), and with the arrival of the holidays these symptoms can easily worsen. Keep in mind the impact that events like holiday parties and family gatherings will have on your mind and body. These tips to avoid the holiday blues are provided by the Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA) Mental Health Task Force, a group of experts who understand the intersection of mental/emotional health and PH and who are working to improve existing PHA resources and develop essential psychosocial resources.
During the holidays, we often get caught up in worrying about pleasing other people and meeting their expectations. This can lead us to cutting ourselves short on the things we do to keep ourselves healthy. Stress and anxiety are common experiences for most people and it is an unavoidable consequence of life. However, there are ways to change this environment. The task force suggests the following tips to try to reduce stress during the holidays:
- While any form of exercise, good amount of sleep and proper diet are the norm for reducing stress, recent studies have advocated crafts such as knitting, sewing or crocheting as stress relievers. The rhythmic, fine repetitive movements that require a lot of attention seems to produce a calming effect. One way to do it is to join a local crafts workshop in your neighborhood.
- Do not allow yourself to become overwhelmed. During the holiday season, you can be selective about what you can do, such as either going grocery shopping for the holiday meal or preparing the meal. It is important to inform your friends and loved ones ahead of time about your limitations.
- Keep doing what you are doing. Continue to get the rest you normally would and keep up with your regular wellness activities (e.g., therapy appointments or yoga).
- When RSVPing for events, don’t be afraid to let the host know that you can only stay for a certain amount of time. This kind of planning ahead will not only let your host know what to expect, it will also make for a smooth exit.
- Take a break: Don’t forget to make time for yourself. There may be invitations piling up, old friends trying to reconnect and Facebook posts abounding this time of year. Remember to take the time to breathe, rest and slow down when you need to. Trying to do everything for everyone else is a surefire way to burn yourself out on this marathon of a season.
For more information about dealing with holiday stress, go to https://phassociation.org/patients/living-with-ph/coping-with-ph/.