Studies have shown holiday time to be stress time for many.
Long days filled with longer lines, large crowds and endless to-do lists. Relatives. Parties. Food. Bills. It is no wonder the holiday season can also be a stressful time.
That is why we have created a list of the top 10 ways to reduce the stress this holiday season.
These tips are your cheat sheet to help you maintain wellness, so you can experience lots of holiday cheer this season.
Holiday season especially offers the temptation for sugary, empty-calorie foods that can wreak havoc on your healthy diet while increasing your anxiety levels. Research has shown that the intake of added sugars is linked to an increased risk for depressive symptoms1. Refined sugar intake can impact key areas of the brain responsible for mood control. Additionally, high sugars and carbohydrates in the diet can cause inflammation, which can further depress mood. Instead, opt for organic, fresh, plant-based foods rich in antioxidants and nutrients. In order to feel your best, focus on vegetables and fruits, healthy fats and lean proteins. Some of the best mood-boosting foods include salmon (omega-3 fatty acids), blueberries (antioxidants), kale (magnesium), avocados (potassium) and kimchi (probiotics).
Regular movement like walking is an effective tactic for relieving stress and anxiety during the holidays. The repetitive movement of walking can help to calm the activity of an over-active brain and provide some much-needed tranquility. It is also a form of movement meditation that helps you to focus on your breathing. Walking and other forms of exercise help to release feel-good endorphins, the body’s natural “happy” chemicals. Even a simple 10-minute walk can help to improve mental health, reduce tension, decrease fatigue and help the brain cope with stress. Aim for at least a 10-minute walk every day and especially during times of stress.
Mediation is key to relieving stress anytime of the year. It forces you to stop and pause during times of anxiety or worry. Meditation (also known as focused breathing) as a regular practice can help you to control your stress and decrease anxiety over time. Mindfulness meditation is a useful practice to engage in regularly. This type of mediation has become popular in recent years. It is the practice of sitting in a comfortable position and focusing on one’s breathing. During this time, the goal is to bring your mind to the present and let thoughts simply drift by. Research has shown that mindfulness meditation can relieve stress, anxiety, depression and even pain. Try out different apps such as Headspace. You can plug in your headphones and just breathe.
We are always promoting the health benefits of the sun. Sunlight is especially important during the colder, winter months. Sunshine stimulates the production of serotonin, the “happy, feel-good” chemical your body naturally makes. Exposure to sunlight increases serotonin, which can boost mood and help people feel calm and relaxed. Get in the sunshine for at least 20 minutes a day. If you live somewhere cold, open up your window blinds to allow the natural sunlight to flow in and surround your environment.
Whenever you feel yourself getting anxious or stressed during the day, take 5-10 minutes for relaxation breaks. During this time, you can simply sit with your thoughts or you can do an activity you enjoy such as reading or listening to music. Try focusing on slowing down your breathing (or even meditating!) when you’re feeling frustrated waiting in line at the department store or post office.
Certain citrus scents have been shown to reduce stress and improve mood. A Japanese study found that when participates inhaled the scent of citrus for 10 minutes they showed improvements in mood and reduced levels of stress chemicals2. The aromatic effects of many types of citrus oils can help to alleviate emotional stress and anxiety, especially during the winter holiday season. For an all-day pick-me-up, try putting some essential oil in a diffuser in your house or in your car.
When you sleep better, you feel better. Aim for at least 8 hours of sleep per night to rejuvenate the body. Go to sleep with the sundown and awake with the sunrise, the natural sleep pattern of our ancestors. If you’ve got anxiety and insomnia, try our Calm product. This has a calming effect on the body and can aid in managing stress and reducing anxiety and improving impaired sleep. There are many ways you can enhance your sleep such as eating healthy, exercising regularly, getting sunshine and putting your phone away.
If you know what you have to do in advance, then you will be less likely to get stressed about it when the time arises. Writing down everything you must do during the holidays will help you to prioritize which tasks need to be done when and help you to feel more in control. It also gives you a sense of accomplishment when you’re able to cross these items off your list. Having a priority to do list allows you to tackle items off the list one by one. The important thing about a to do list is to also include self-care items. Prioritize your workouts, chiropractor appointments or massages and put them at the top of list. Don’t try to do more than you can handle during this busy time of year.
A digital detox, otherwise known as a break from technology, is always good. It is especially important during the busy holiday seasons. Constant texts, emails or calls can keep you in fight or flight mode contributing to high levels of stress and elevated stress hormones. Try putting your phone in airplane mode during holiday get-togethers. You can still take some family pictures, but you’ll be able to spend more quality, uninterrupted time with your family and friends.
Research has shown that spicy foods can trigger the release of feel-good endorphins. These endorphins can trigger the feeling of well-being and happiness. Chili peppers, for example, have high levels of capsaicin, which can stimulate the brain to release endorphins. What’s more, chili peppers have numerous heart health benefits. Try cooking with some spice this holiday season. The addition of some fresh chilies or spice powders can help to boost your mood.
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