During this holiday season, it's easy to become overwhelmed with details including gift buying and wrapping, writing and mailing cards, baking, and responsibilities and deadlines. This stress can multiply for people with disabilities who encounter additional lifestyle barriers. Don't let anxiety ruin your holidays. Determine what makes you anxious and do something about it. What are your stressors? Gift buying budget problems? Lack of accessible transportation options to the shopping center? An overload of deadlines?
- Examine your attitude. Is the problem small, medium, or large? What resources can you draw upon to solve the problem? Exercise always helps to reduce stress no matter how bad things get. Yoga is especially helpful since it includes breathing and relaxation techniques. When you're stressed, do a 5- to 10-minute routine to bring your body, mind, and spirit back into perspective. Holiday stresses are only a minor nuisance in the grander scheme of things.
- Ward off stress with exercise and good nutrition. During the winter months, we have a tendency to crave fats and sweets, particularly with the abundance of holiday treats all around us, and this can contribute to feeling more run-down and stressed. Instead, make nutritious choices, such as eating healthier foods (e.g., an apple with some cinnamon or a touch of caramel instead of apple pie); cutting back on fat sources (e.g., butter cookies made with reduced-fat margarine or butter instead of regular butter); and rationing the sweets you enjoy. Moreover, persons with disabilities should follow the nutritional guidelines most beneficial for their health conditions without denying themselves an occasional holiday treat. For example, there are even low fat eggnog and soy eggnog which are quite tasty!
Use NCHPAD as your buddy to becoming fit and healthy! We challenge you to chart out a personalized "12 days of wellness" plan for the holiday period. Here are some suggestions:
- Develop a positive attitude. It's easy to be negative but reframing your thought processes to become more positive will make your life significantly better.
- Problem-solve with people around you. Ask them to help you alleviate stress.
- Obtain a physical: Your physician should be an integral partner in your wellness plan.
- Count calories: Recording your diet can help you monitor what you eat.
- Eat a balanced diet, and limit the amount of fat and sugar.
- Avoid drinking too many caffeinated beverages.
- Dance: Persons with disabilities can enjoy all forms of dance, by themselves or with someone else. Contact NCHPAD for references.
- Start exercising: Each step or wheel counts! Call NCHPAD or see http://www.ncpad.org for factsheets and programs in your area.
- Take a class in relaxation and stretching techniques, like Tai Chi or Pilates. See NCHPAD factsheets for adapted techniques.
- Rest. Sleep for 7 to 8 hours each day.
- Keep good posture: Consult with a NCHPAD information specialist on better posture from a wheelchair, with an amputation, etc.
- Get a massage: Make sure the massage therapist is trained in giving massages for your disability and age category.
- Round off a nutritious diet with a good multivitamin.
- Respect yourself and others and never forget that there is a reason for your existence. Finding that reason will be the key to your happiness.
Please send your comments and feedback to Valerie Lawson at firstname.lastname@example.org.