Tips for managing stress during a COVID holiday

Feeling stressed? You’re not alone. Stress levels are rising due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the numerous disruptions in our daily lives. Although a modest amount of stress is normal, high levels of stress can be dangerous to your health and may contribute to serious health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, anxiety and depression. Therefore, make sure to keep a close eye on your well-being and the well-being of your loved ones during the holidays.

There is no magic bullet to make stress disappear forever, but we can take action to help reduce stress. Here is a list of tips that may reduce your stress and lead to a more enjoyable holiday season.

Recognize your holiday stress triggers and relievers.

Financial pressures and personal demands are two common triggers. Also, beware of unhealthy stress relievers. Holiday stress may cause some people to fall into bad habits such as smoking, drinking or eating too much.

Give yourself a break.

While doing things for others, it’s easy to forget to take care of ourselves. If you feel stress building up, take a break for a few minutes. Listening to calming music, taking time to watch a movie, or just getting away to take a brief walk can give you time to unwind and recharge.

Make time for your health.

In the holiday rush, don’t let your well-being fall by the wayside. Try to stay on your normal sleep schedule, incorporate healthy foods and get regular exercise. If you can’t find a 30-minute chunk of time for exercise, break it up into three 10-minute sessions spread throughout the day.

 Check your health plan benefits.

Some insurers, such as UnitedHealthcare, offer behavioral health care programs that can range from caring for your mental health to treatment for substance abuse, with a goal of helping improve your overall well-being.

Talk to your doctor.

  If it feels like you’re not able to get a handle on your stress, talk to your doctor. She or he may recommend a counselor who could help you find other ways to help reduce or manage the unhealthy stress in your life.

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Submitted by Ann Marie O’Brien, R.N., director of health engagement strategies, UnitedHealthcare