Most people experience some level of stress during the holidays. As soon as the holiday music and advertisements start (in October sometimes!), it feels like the race is on to deck the halls, buy the gifts, arrange family get-togethers, make travel plans, try not to bust through your holiday budget and more. During this hectic time of the year, self-care is more important than ever. Here are some tips to help you manage and reduce your holiday stress:
- Breathe deep from your belly. Stop and give yourself the luxury of a taking a few deep, cleansing breaths, which may reduce your stress levels in minutes.
- Get outside. Spending time outdoors may help support a healthy heart rate and blood pressure, as well as reduce your stress, and ultimately support your health. Give your holiday to-do list a break and take the dog for a walk, hit the hills for a hike or blow off some steam at an outdoor skating rink with your family.
- Move more, stress less. Exercise may boost the production of endorphins, your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters. It also may improve your mood and help you relax. Whether you sneak in some yoga before work, go for a walk or run at lunch (see above) or hit the gym, try to squeeze in some regular exercise whenever you can, even if your normal exercise schedule might be hard to maintain.
- Download a meditation app. A few minutes of meditation may help refocus and center yourself as well as help you relax if you’re stressed. Instead of trying this on your own, a mediation app can help guide you through the process, allowing you to shut out the craziness of your busy life and become present with what’s important.
- Fill your plate with stress-busting foods. In stressful times, it’s tempting to reach for refined carbs that give you an instant sugar rush or salt fix. Foods like avocados and walnuts, which are naturally low in carbs, may boost your mood and help you maintain steady energy levels. Plus, here are four tips to help you avoid stress eating.
- Simplify your life. Save yourself some time and stress and order a pre-cooked turkey, ham or prime rib (naturally low in carbs!). Throw a holiday potluck instead of making everything yourself. Say “no thanks” to a few holiday invitations and relax with your family at home instead.
- Be grateful. Research shows people who express gratitude are happier and have less stress. Even when your days and nights are jam-packed with holiday prep, don’t forget to take some time to check in with your gratitude journal if you’ve started one.
As you continue through this “most wonderful time of the year”, hopefully these stress-reducing tips will truly make it a wonderful and memorable experience.