Keep Stress Low This Holiday Season
The holidays are supposed to be a time of fun and relaxation. But for many people they turn out to be just the opposite. Here are my tips for staying happy and stress-free this holiday season.
- Sleep: ‘Tis the season for fun and festivities, but too many late nights and lack of sleep can add to our stress. Sleep allows our brains to recharge and our bodies to rest. Studies show that people who get less sleep a night feel more stressed, angry, sad and even mentally exhausted. Lack of sleep this holiday can also lower your alertness and concentration and your holiday shopping will take that much longer which piles upon more to your stress levels. So, give yourself a healthy gift this season and get a good night’s rest by creating bedtime rituals, avoiding caffeine close to night and making sure to stick to a sleep schedule.
- Do something for others: We all know it feels great to be on the receiving end of a great gift or a kind deed. But research shows that giving to others can also uplift our own feelings of well-being. The act of giving social support has been shown to reduce the body’s hormonal stress response, and has even been associated with lower levels of overall anxiety and risk of death. So this holiday season, do something for others: it can be as small as an unexpected kind deed or a small favor.
- Make a holiday playlist – Nothing can pick up a holiday mood more quickly than seasonal songs, and with good reason: Research shows that listening to music can crank down stress hormones, lower blood pressure and heart rate and kick your anxiety the curb. So make it easy to listen to holiday songs by creating a playlist of your favorites. Put it on in the background while you wrap gifts or cook for a party.
- Get a mood boost from the sun: A lack of sunshine during the winter months can lead some people to develop irritability, low energy, and trouble sleeping, a condition called seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. So if you notice you’re more down in the winter, spend some time outside! It doesn’t have to be sunny and warm out there. Bundle up and get outside even if it’s cold and cloudy. You’ll still get those UV rays that boost your vitamin D and your mood.
- Watch something funny: Laughter bonds us together as social beings and research shows time and again that it heals us in many different ways as well. Humor plays a huge role in our interactions with friends and family to improve relationships, boost mood, and reduce stress. We get the same benefits when we laugh at our favorite television shows. So turn on the TV or open up your browser and let out some hearty holiday giggles.
- Take some deep breaths: Meditation is a powerful destressing tool. Many studies have shown that it helps you become more emotionally and physically balanced. It activates a relaxation response that helps your heart rate decrease, your breathing slow, and your muscles release. The best part about meditation is that you can do it anywhere. Zone out your surroundings, take a few deep, slow breaths and focus completely on your inhale and exhale.