Strategies to relieve patient stress during the holidays

The holidays are a whirlwind of activity, but they also bring a fair bit of stress for patients. When travel is added into the mix, it can make for quite the headache. Having a solid game plan in place to manage stress levels is the best tactic patients can employ. Here are a few strategies to suggest to patients who are feeling overwhelmed by their holiday travel plans.
 
Plan For The Return
 
Nobody wants to come home to a messy house, but who has time to clean before they leave? Suggest patients knock out the small but impactful tasks: make the beds, gather up dirty laundry, take out the trash, and clean up the kitchen; maybe do a quick run of the vacuum. Even just a few tidied spaces will keep them from feeling overloaded when they get home. They can also try ordering groceries online ahead of time to avoid a regular grocery trip right upon returning.
 
Use The Force of Technology
 
There are a wealth of apps available these days to help with travel, be it by air or car. TripIt is a travel itinerary app that allows patients to keep all their travel reservations in one place, and it helps people take quick action when cancellations occur. Gas Buddy finds the nearest gas stations with the best prices per gallon, and it helps calculate costs so users can stay within a budget. Wifi Free Spot is also a great way to stay connected while away from home.
 
Get Secure
 
Leaving a house empty during the holidays can make anyone a little anxious and stressed. Patients should consider using home security apps like iSentry or Alfred, which allow them to monitor their house from a distance on multiple devices. It also never hurts to let neighbors know they will be out of town and that they might have someone watching the house.
 
Pet Prep
 
For Fido and Fluffy, patients might consider hiring a sitter or using a pet sitting service. Some of these include profiles and reviews to help them get to know their sitter, and/or premium insurance with booking.
 
Don’t Take It, Mail It
 
Dealing with security lines during the holidays is no picnic, and checking baggage can be costly. Patients can try mailing toiletries/necessities to wherever they are going. They can use USPS flat rate boxes, which nine times out of 10 will be cheaper to mail than checking luggage with an airline. They should consider mailing ahead any gifts, too, which can cut down on more stuff to schlep around.
 
Build in Downtime
 
Encourage your patients to make a point to have leisure time built into their travel plans. They should keep their exercise routine, but incorporate travel-friendly sessions, or take a quick walk around the block to help them decompress a little. They might want to go see a movie, take a nap, sleep in — whatever works, they should make it happen for a chance to breathe and unwind a little.
 
Avoid Confrontation
 
The recent election has left a lot of people at odds over the future, but this type of conversation is best left at the door. Patients can keep the peace by avoiding difficult subjects when they can, though oftentimes that is hard to do. Suggest they use their best judgment and redirect when it’s possible.
 
Rest Upon Returning
 
If they can, patients should build in a day to recover before going back to work. This will help them and the rest of their family ease back into the regular routine. This isn’t always an option, however, so remind them to cut themselves a little slack. Most importantly, remind patients that it’s just the holidays, and they come every year. Travel is a big stressor, but if they go easy on themselves and ease up on expectations, the holiday 
season can be an enjoyable experience.
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