If your first reaction to the title of this post is, “That’s impossible!,” you’re not alone. The holidays are a stressful time for many people, and they impact many aspects of our lives – financial, emotional, social, physical, and spiritual, to name a few. While I don’t have a magical solution to get rid of your holiday stressors, I do have some ideas on how to manage them – and your life in general – so they don’t seem like stressors at all.
My main solution to managing the stress that accompanies this time of year is to make my everyday life as happy as possible by enjoying everything good that comes along with the season. Since this is such a busy time, it’s also helpful for me to simplify my life and make time to take care of myself – because, after all, what fun will the holidays be (for me, and everyone around me) if I’m sick, tired, and all-around miserable? Below are a few strategies I’ve used to manage my stress around the holidays, as well as a few new ones that I’m planning on trying this year. Here’s to a happy, healthy holiday season!
- Aim for at least 30 minutes of low-impact exercise each day. Exercise produces endorphins, feel-good hormones that help counteract the negative effects of stress.
- Purchase – and use – a yoga DVD. Yoga is a great way to relieve stress, and you can do it in the comfort of your own home! If you’re new to the yoga world, try starting with the Hatha form of yoga, as it involves slow and controlled movements and is easy for beginners.
- Go to bed one hour earlier than normal. Not getting enough sleep can leave you tired (obviously), cranky, hungry, prone to emotional eating, and more likely to get sick.
- Make your beverages decaf – and non-alcoholic. Coffee and alcohol are stimulants, which means they can make you jittery and disrupt your sleep patterns, so you’re less likely to have a restful night’s sleep (see above).
- Take a relaxing hot shower or bath for 20 minutes. Hot showers relax your muscles, while in turn relaxing your mind.
- Spend time doing one fun activity or hobby that you enjoy. Remember to take care of yourself, too!
- Get a massage. See above. What better way to take care of yourself than by getting a relaxing massage?
- Shop smart – go to the mall during the week instead of the weekend to do holiday shopping. A trip to the mall is a lot less stressful when the stores aren’t crowded!
- Perform deep breathing exercises. Like yoga, deep breathing will help reduce your stress levels. All you need to do is take a few deep breaths from your belly (making sure that your belly goes OUT as you breathe in, and it goes back IN when you breathe out) to instantly lower your stress level.
- Make a list – and check it twice. This time of year can seem overwhelming. Make a weekly list of everything you want or need to do, no matter how quick or insignificant the task may seem. You’ll feel more organized and less frazzled once you start checking off all your accomplishments!