Updated: Nov 18, 2021
Ah the holidays! Carolers, twinkling lights, inklings of snow, a plethora of social gatherings, and STRESS!
What if you could stress less and enjoy the season more?
Check out our list of 15 holiday stress-busters, here to help make your holidays merry and bright. Get ready to knock out holiday stress with a one-two punch!
15 powerful ways to knock out holiday stress:
Sniff for Serenity
Citrus scents like lemon and orange have been shown to alleviate feelings of stress while boosting well-being by increasing levels of norepinephrine, the hormone that affects our mood. Try slicing up some citrus and take a deep whiff before adding it to your H2O, or rub a citrus essential oil on your wrists and take deep breathes of the scent throughout the day!
Take a Walk
Getting outside for a walk is not only good for your physical self, but great 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 enhancing sleep. So lace up and head outdoors (rain or shine!) and soak up some mind, body and spirit benefits!
Did you know in traditional Chinese medicine there is a fleshy spot between your index finger and thumb known as “hoku” spot used to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety? By applying firm pressure for just 30 seconds while breathing deeply you can actually reduce stress and tension throughout your entire upper body!
Learn to Say "No"
It's easy to go overboard during the holiday season, feeling obligated to attend every event, help with seasonal requests, and still keep up with our daily life task. Suddenly we are cooking more, shopping more, running here and there and feeling obligated to say "yes" to each request thrown our way. It's ok to prioritize those things you really want to do (and sometimes need to do) in order to say no to others. Remember, practicing healthy balance in all things is important.
Keep Your Routine
The holidays come and before you know it we seem to have dropped our daily routine quicker than a hot potato! Keeping consistent with your regular routine helps you deal with stress more effectively by empowering you with healthy coping mechanisms, providing you with those activities you look forward to, and giving you a healthy sense of boundaries and time management. So keep hitting the gym, attending your book club, taking your furry friend for a walk, and eating to feel and function your best. Your mind and body will thank you!
Laugh Out Loud
Not just text shorthand, laughing out loud is an important physical activity. 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 clip, call a friend for a good chuckle, or watch your favorite comedy show, before you know it you'll not only be smiling but giggling too!
You’ve heard it time and time again, exercise is not just good for your physical health, but important for your mental health too. And studies show that the feel good benefits of getting moving can last up to 12 hours post exercise! So why wouldn't you make time for that walk, bike ride, strength training session, or yoga routine?
Start Something New
Sometimes the holiday season brings up feelings of isolation, loneliness, and the sad memory of passed family or loved ones. It’s hard to see the conventional picture of joy and happiness during the season that movies and music paint when you don't feel you fit the mold. Now is a great time to start some new traditions with friends and family, doing things that lift you up 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 meet new people. It is these types of activities that keep us focused on all we have rather than what we may be missing.
In today's modern world we are more accessible than ever. Between email, text messaging and social media, we don't have to wait long to hear about what's happening.... we simply log in. While you may think our ability to connect with others so easily is a good thing, this constant state of activity has actually been shown to increase adrenaline, invoking feelings similar to the “fight or flight” response.
Start interfacing more and logging in less. Set your phone, tablet, and pc aside and be present in the here and now happening right in front of you. Maybe that means playing a game with the kids, spending quality time with your furry companion, enjoying a conversation with friends or family, taking a walk around the neighborhood to look at festive decorations, or just enjoying some peace and quiet reading a book. We all need to unplug so we can plug back in.
Now is a great time to volunteer, giving time at a local homeless shelter, school, senior center, food bank, or pet shelter. When we step outside of ourselves and do something for others we are subtly reminded of all we have to be grateful for while also leading with a kind and generous foot. Positivity is contagious, when you brighten someone else's day you will also add a little joy to your own!
So many folks start their day loading up on caffeine without putting anything in their stomach, causing blood sugar levels to spike, which leads to irritability, sluggish energy and challenged mental focus. Start your day with a balanced ratio of carbohydrates and protein, such as a slice of whole wheat toast with nut butter and a side of fruit, or a hard boiled egg and a banana. You'll support your energy needs, boost mood and improve productivity. Starting your day with a full tank will enable you to efficiently tackle more of those tasks, as well as any curve balls that might get thrown your way!
Get a Tune Up
Most of us love music. It can stir up happy memories, help us to relax, energize and lift us up, make us want to dance, and just make us feel good. Not surprisingly listening to music has been shown to relax blood vessels and increase blood flow, inducing a sense of calm within the body. The next time you're feeling a bit down or anxious try putting on your favorite playlist and rock on (or zen out).
Perspective is Everything
The power of the mind is a beautiful, crazy, and wonderful thing. Just as negative thinking breeds negativity, positive thinking will breed positivity. A pretty great reason to look for what is going well, highlight the blessing in your life and choose an attitude of gratitude. Being reminded of all you have to be grateful for, no matter how big or small, helps put things in positive perspective. The reality is no one's life is never 100% good or 100% bad. When you focus on the good, it's much easier to feel optimistic and empower a positive outlook, which better prepares you to manage any of those bumps in life's road!
Channel your inner child and go build a snowman, start a snowball fight, do some holiday crafting, or whip up a tasty holiday treat! Getting creative releases “feel good” hormones, which makes it pretty hard not to smile. Not sure where to start? Check out Pinterest for some fun craft ideas, pick up a holiday magazine and explore some festive recipes, crafting and decorating ideas, or take a day drive up to the mountains and play in the snow!
Re-Discover the Joy
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?
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