Holiday fun and time with loved ones can help lower seasonal stress

‘Tis the season for holidays and what is often called the most wonderful time of the year. The period from November to January is joyous for many people but can also be a time of immense anxiety.

It’s true the holidays come with seasonal music, beautiful decorations, and delicious treats. It’s just as true to say the season is packed with high-stressed activities such as shopping with a limited budget, making travel plans, and cooking a meal for several people.

A healthline.com survey revealed 62 percent of the more than 2,000 participants found the holiday season stressful or somewhat stressful. After finances, the greatest cause for stress was the worry around staying fit during the holidays.

Santa Claus stands up and says hello as he completes his boat ride across the Schuylkill River during the 2019 Pottstown Holiday Stroll event. (Photo by Michilea Patterson – For MediaNews Group)

Your doctor may not recommend an extra slice of apple pie but there are studies that show time spent with loved ones have health benefits such as stress management. A Carnegie Mellon University study found support from friends and family act as a stress buffer. Social support results in reduced risks for stress-related diseases.

Conveniently, there are several upcoming holiday-themed events in the region perfect for family bonding or time spent with other loved ones. The events below are not only seasonal fun but also a way to stay healthy during the holidays.

Celebrate Blue Friday with a Cleanup on Nov. 26

United by Blue is encouraging the community to make the Friday after Thanksgiving blue instead of black. Blue Friday is about helping to clean up the outdoors and walking in nature at the same time. People participate through a do-it-yourself cleanup activity such as along a trail, at a park, or somewhere in your neighborhood. United by Blue has cleanup kits available for purchase or people can use their own supplies. After the cleanup, people can submit their findings and report the amount of trash collected. For more information, visit unitedbyblue.com/pages/optoutside-cleanups.

Christmas Maze on Nov. 26 – Nov. 28

The Gilbertsville Farm is offering their Christmas maze for one last time this season. Groups can walk through the farm’s corn maze while listening to seasonal Christmas music. A ticket to the corn maze is $12 per person. Children two years old and younger are free. The maze is open on Nov. 26 from 5 to 10 p.m., then open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. the following Saturday and Sunday. Free hot chocolate and a Christmas movie will be shown in the barn from 5 to 10 p.m. on the weekend. For more information, visit www.thegilbertsvillefarm.com.

Holiday fun and time with loved ones can help lower seasonal stress
People walk through a corn maze during the fall season. (Photo Courtesy of Kevin Keifrider)

Holiday Farmers Market on Nov. 27

The Pottstown FARM will have Santa, a sleigh, and fresh foods. The Farm and Artisan Regional Market (FARM) provides the community with fresh and locally grown food, as well as other products. The pop-up market is seasonal and takes place at Smith Family Plaza, located at 100 E. High St. in Pottstown. On Nov. 27, the market will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. People can buy nutritious food and get their picture with Santa all at once. The market will also be celebrating Small Business Saturday which encourages residents to shop locally during the holiday season. For more information, visit https://pottstownfarm.org/

Holiday Stroll in Pottstown on Dec. 4

The Pottstown Annual Holiday Stroll and Tree Lighting will take place on Saturday, Dec. 4. The day will be filled with fun seasonal festivities and a great opportunity for bonding with friends and family. At noon, the community is invited to watch Santa cross the Schuylkill River in a dragon boat at Pottstown Riverfront Park. The address for the park is 140 College Drive. After coming on land, Santa will travel to his “Santa Shack” by firetruck. The holiday event will also include a town scavenger hunt, children’s activities and cookie decorating.

Holiday fun and time with loved ones can help lower seasonal stress
A plantar along High Street in Pottstown is decorated for the holiday season. The borough does a Holiday Plantar Competition as part of seasonal festivities. (Photo by Michilea Patterson – For MediaNews Group)

The borough also has a Holiday Plantar Competition. Several businesses and organizations in the area decorate a planter along High Street. In the past, the planters have been decorated with a Grinch theme, as an angel and more. The competition is a great opportunity to take a walk along High Street to view all the creative designs. The winner of the plantar competition will be announced at the tree lighting taking place at 7:30 p.m. that evening.

For more information about the holiday stroll and the plantar competition, visit the Pottstown Area Economic Development Facebook page at www.facebook.com/IPickPottstown.

Holiday fun and time with loved ones can help lower seasonal stress
A crowd of people gather around Santa Claus after he crossed the Schuylkill River in a dragon boat during the 2019 Pottstown Holiday Stroll event. (Photo by Michilea Patterson – For MediaNews Group)
Holiday fun and time with loved ones can help lower seasonal stress
People clean up trash near the Schuylkill River Trail in Reading. United by Blue is asking the community to participate in a do-it-yourself cleanup activity the Friday after Thanksgiving. (Photo by Michilea Patterson – For MediaNews Group)