Updated: Oct 8
Ah the holidays! Carolers, twinkling lights, inklings of snow, a plethora of social gatherings, and STRESS! What if you could stress less and enjoy more? Sounds pretty great right? Well we've got you covered! Check out our list of 15 holiday stress-busters, here to empower your healthy holiday so you can stress less and enjoy more. Get ready to knock out holiday stressors with a 1-2 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!
Squeeze Me – 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 a 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, attend book club, take fido for a walk, and eat well - your mind, body, and spirit will thank you!
Laugh Out Loud – not just the 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 flick, before you know it you'll not only be smiling but giggling too!
Get Moving – you’ve heard it time and time again, exercise is not only good for your physical health, but great for your mind and spirit too. And studies show that the feel good benefits of getting your sweat on 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?
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.
Go Tech-Free – in today's modern world we are more accessible than ever. Between Facebook, google+, Instagram, and text messaging we never really have to wait to hear what's happening now....we simply log in! While you may think our ability to connect with others easier may be 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 the smartphone, tablet, and pc aside and be present in the here and now right there 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, or just quietly reading a book. From time to time we all need to unplug so we can plug back in.
Give Back – 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 to do something for someone else 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!
Power Up – 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 attention problems. Instead start your day with a healthy ratio of complex carbs and lean proteins to support balanced mood as well as mental and physical energy needs. Starting your day on a full tank will enable you to take on those daily tasks (as well as any curve balls that might get thrown your way) that much more efficiently!
Get a Tune Up – people love music. It can stir up happy memories, help us relax, energize and lift us up, make us want to move, and it just plain make us feel good! 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 try putting on your favorite playlist and rock on (or zen out)!
Perspective is Everything – the power of the mind is a crazy, wonderful and beautiful thing. Just as negative thinking breeds negativity, positive thinking will breed positivity! Why not look for all that is right instead of looking for what is wrong? Being reminded of all you have to be grateful for, no matter how big or small, helps put things in perspective. The reality is no one's life is never 100% good or 100% bad. When you focus on those good things it's much easier to be optimistic and utilize a positive perspective, which better prepares you to manage those bumps in life's road as they come your way!
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! 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 recipe, crafting and decorating ideas, or take a drive up to the mountains and enjoy 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?
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 an ambitious man or woman who's ready to feel strong, live healthy, and get fit? Discover how to take small steps to get healthy & fit without cutting out the foods you love or spending countless hours on cardio. Come join me inside my online Facebook Community - The Healthy Habits Club. It's where ambitious folks go for the tips, tools and support they need to eat healthy, move daily, and feel good for life!