5 tips to help seniors manage holiday stress

The holiday season is a wonderful time to share in the joys of family and friends; however, for some older adults, the holidays can be stressful, or bring about feelings of loneliness and social isolation, according to McMaster University.

By anticipating and minimizing stressors that could potentially spoil the holidays and affect your physical or emotional health, you can take control and enjoy the festive season:

1. Reach out. Older adults who engage in social activities, such as visiting family and friends or participating in group programs with peers, live longer and have fewer disabilities, says McMaster. Invite family, friends or neighbours to spend time with you rather than waiting for them to contact you. Volunteering your time to help others can also lift your spirits and expand your circle of friendships.

2. Exercise to ease stress. Virtually any form of physical activity has stress-busting benefits, says Mayo Clinic. Walking, dancing, yoga, tai chi, or light aerobics can relieve stress, boost energy and improve your mood.

3. Enjoy treats in moderation. Indulge in your favourite holiday foods, but keep portions small, and balance rich fare and sweets with healthy, regular eating, says Health Canada. Drink alcohol in moderation is also recommended, according to Cleveland Clinic.

4. Pace yourself. Doing too much, attending too many social events and staying up late on successive nights can be physically and emotionally exhausting. Overly-stimulating environments can also increase stress. Take breathers and make time for yourself to be alone, rest, or do quiet activities you enjoy like reading or listening to music.

5. Ask for help in wintery conditions. You may be concerned about getting in and out of vehicles safely and navigating steps, stairs or slippery conditions when attending holiday gatherings, especially at unfamiliar locations. Make plans for someone to help you do it safely, whether or not this involves using assistive devices such as a cane, walker or wheelchair.