Monday Medical: Let off a little steam
Steamboat Springs — A version of this article previously ran in the Steamboat Pilot & Today.
The holidays are like a pressure cooker. The ingredients are good family, parties, food and drink, gifts and tradition, yet these activities are jammed in under such high pressure that it all threatens to explode under the weight of high expectations.
Living in a resort community, residents are often bombarded by guests during the holidays. And because holiday guests are most often the dearest of friends and family, we want them to have the ultimate Steamboat experience. Suddenly your home has become a bed and breakfast, and you’ve become a personal vacation planner, trying to schedule activities to fit each person’s interests and schedule.
There are a few keys to maintaining sanity when your home is filled to the brim.
The most important way to de-stress your holidays is to build in some time for yourself. You can count on things becoming overwhelming at times so schedule time for a little relaxation and exercise. Sustaining at least part of your routine will help you stay calm as the pressure rises.
Wake up early and sneak in a workout. Sleep in and assign breakfast duties to someone else. Take a short nap or a quiet walk outside after dinner. Get a massage after work or take your favorite exercise class.
Your guests can do without you for an hour. Besides, after taking a little time for yourself, you will be refreshed and ready to give them your full attention.
When you literally can’t escape the stress — the family dispute, the line at the grocery store, the guest who has had more than his share of hot toddies) — use calming breathing exercises to help you stay in control. Take slow deep breaths through your nose, feeling your stomach expand, then release each breath slowly through the mouth, feeling your stomach flatten. You can further transport yourself from a stressful environment by focusing on a positive mental image such as walking on a deserted beach.
Less is more when it comes to taking stress out of the holidays. Revise your expectations and focus on what’s truly important to you, then let the less important things go.
If you’re hosting family or friends over the holidays:
• Don’t make yourself responsible for everyone else’s happiness. This is Steamboat. There are numerous activities at your guests’ fingertips. A simple online search or a visit to our local Chamber will give your guests more than enough choices.
• Don’t become overwhelmed with cooking. If you enjoy it, freeze some meals ahead and plan relatively simple dishes you’ve made before. Keep it simple. Your guests don’t expect gourmet cuisine at every meal.
• Ask others for help. The kitchen is a great place to visit. Turn on your favorite holiday tunes and give everyone a job. Not only does it make for a low-stress meal, but you get to spend quality time with your guests.
If you don’t enjoy cooking there are a couple of options. Steamboat has an abundance of restaurants. Remember that restaurant carryouts and get-and-go options are available if you are looking to stay in.
The pressure-cooker holiday season won’t overwhelm you with mental and emotional stress if you plan for a simpler holiday. Keep your expectations realistic and develop some healthy methods of letting off the extra steam the holidays are sure to create.
Heather Rose is manager of marketing and communications for Yampa Valley Medical Center.
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