Updated: Dec 6, 2019
Ah the holidays! Carolers, twinkling lights, inklings of snow, a plethora of social gatherings... oh and STRESS! What if you could stress less and enjoy the season more? Sounds pretty great right? Well I've got you covered! Check out my list of 15 holiday stress-busters to empower your healthy and happy holiday so you can stress less and enjoy this fun and festive time more. Let's knock out holiday stressors with a 1-2 punch!
15 ways to knock out stress:
1. Sniff for Serenity. Citrus scents like lemon and orange have been shown to alleviate feelings of stress while boosting a sense of well-being by increasing levels of norepinephrine, the hormone that affects mood. Slice up some fresh citrus and take a deep whiff before adding it to your water or rub a bit of citrus essential oil on your wrists and breathe it in throughout the day. Serentiy awaits!
2.Take a Walk. Getting outside for a walk is not only good for your physical self, but for mind and spirit too. The subtle rhythm and repetition of our stride has been linked to positive impacts on the brain, decreasing anxiety and even enhancing sleep. So lace up and head outside (rain or shine!) and soak up some of those great mind, body and spirit benefits!
3. Write it Down. A great way to relieve stress and shift perspective is by writing things down. Journaling offers a safe space to release emotions and negative thoughts and feelings while boosting mental clarity and raising awareness. And pen to paper has been shown to make a greater impact than typing away on a keyboard. Whether it is releasing feelings of the day or making a daily gratitude list, writing is a great way to shift perspective, vent frustrations, practice gratitude, and increase feelings of personal fulfillment and satisfaction.
4. Learn to Say "No." It's easy to find yourself feeling overwhelmed during the holiday season. From social events to seasonal requests it can be challenging to still keep you on your list. Suddenly you are cooking more, running all around and feeling obligated to attend every social invite that comes your way. It's ok to prioritize and say no to things that aren't a good fit or just aren't realistic in order to stay committed to your own health and happiness. Remember, practicing healthy balance in all things is important.
5. Keep Your Routine. The holidays come and before you know it our healthy routines are dropped quicker than a hot potato! Keeping consistent with healthy habits, such a eating well and obtaining regular exercise, will help you manage stress more effectively by arming you with healthy coping tools all season long. Sticking to your healthy habits is essential when it comes to maintaining a healthy sense of boundaries and prioritizing your time. So keep hitting the gym, attend your book club meetings, take your furry friend for a walk, and bring healthy snacks and lunches to work, your mind, body, and spirit will thank you!
6. Laugh Out Loud. No not "lol" but the real belly laughter kind is an important physical stress reliever! Laughter has been shown to enhance feelings of well-being by reducing stress hormones, serving as a natural form of mood boosting therapy. Try pulling up a funny YouTube video, calling a friend for a good chuckle, or watching your favorite comedy show, before you know you'll be reaping the benefits of all those feel good feels!
7. Get Moving. You hear it all the time, exercise is not just good for the body, but for mind and spirit wellness too. And studies show those feel good benefits can last up to 12 hours post exercise. So why wouldn't you make time for that walk, run, strength training session, or yoga class?
8. Start Something New. Sometimes the holiday season brings up feelings of isolation, loneliness or memories that leave us feeling sad. It can be hard to see the conventional picture of joy and happiness during the season that movies and music paint when you don't feel like you fit that cookie cutter mold. Now is a great time to start some new fun traditions, doing things that lift your spirit and remind you of all you have to be grateful for. Try hosting a Friends-giving, throwing an ugly sweater Christmas party, start an email recipe exchange, or venture out to explore a new place and mingle with new people. These types of activities help us see all we have to be grateful for rather than worrying about what we might be missing.
9. Go Tech-Free. In today's modern world we are more accessible than ever. Between Facebook, Instagram and text messages we never really have to wait to hear what's happening now, we get updates on the minute! While you may think the ability to connect with others more easily is a good thing, the constant state of updates has actually been shown to increase adrenaline, invoking feelings similar to the “fight or flight” response. How can you beat it? Start interfacing in real time more and logging in to the visual word less. Set your smartphone, tablet or pc aside and be present in the moment. Make plans to meet up with friends and family in person, enjoy a walk with your furry friend, play games with the kiddos, or sit in your favorite chair and enjoy a moment of peace and quiet.
10. Give Back. Now is a great time to volunteer, give your time at a local homeless shelter, school, senior center, food bank, or pet shelter. When we step outside of ourselves to do something for someone else we are reminded of all our blessings while also paying it forward. Positivity is contagious, when you brighten someone else's day you will find you also add a bit more joy to your own.
11. Power Up. So many folks start their day loading up on caffeine without putting anything in the tank, causing their blood sugar levels to spike, which later leads to irritability, sluggish energy and mental fog. Try kickstarting your day with a mix of complex carbs and lean protein and healthy fats to support energy, mood, and mental focus. Combinations such as a slice of whole wheat toast with nut butter and a banana or some hearty overnight oats will give you the boost you need to tackle a full day.
12. Give Yourself a Tune Up. Most people love music. It can stir happy memories, energize and lift us up, inspire us to move, and soothe or soul. So it isn't hard to see why listening to music has been shown to relax blood vessels and increase blood flow, inducing a sense of calm within the body. So next time you are feeling a bit down or anxious, overwhelmed or tired try putting on your favorite playlist and let the tunes do the rest.
13. Perspective is Everything. The power of the mind is a crazy, wonderful and powerful thing. Just as negative thinking breeds negativity, positive thinking breeds positive vibes. As the saying goes, every day may not be good, but there is something good in every day! Look for the good and you will naturally see more of it. Big or small, seeing the positive really helps put things in perspective. The reality is no one's life is ever 100% good or 100% bad.
14. Play More. Get ready to channel your inner child and go build a snowman, start a snowball fight, do some holiday crafting or whip up a tasty holiday treat. Being creative releases “feel good” hormones, which makes it pretty hard not to bring a smile and feel ahhmazing. Not sure where to start? Check out Pinterest for some fun craft ideas, pick up a holiday magazine and explore some new recipes or take a drive up to the mountains and enjoy the snow.
15. Re-Discover the Joy of the Season. Ask yourself what you find most enjoyable during the holiday season:
The sights, sounds and smells?
Decorations and lights?
Festive foods and seasonal flavors?
Time spent with family and friends?
Carrying on or starting up new traditions?
Visiting new places and creating new memories?
Bottom line - some might say stress is inevitable during the holiday season, the good news is how we allow it to effect us doesn't have to take away our holiday cheer! By finding healthier ways to manage stressors as they come up we in fact discover ways we can actively reduce it, thereby minimizing it's impacts. The simplest way to begin is by choosing a few activities that will lift you up this holiday season, helping to remind you of the joy of the season. Remember, the less we stress the more we can enjoy all the present has to offer.
Are you are a woman who is ready to live healthier and happier, ditch the diet, and discover small steps that make a big impact so you can live a life you love in a body you are proud of? Come join me inside my women’s-only Facebook Group - The Healthy Habits Club. It's where busy women go to create healthy habits so they can stress less, eat healthy, move more, and feel good for life!