Between the shopping, cooking and party planning, let’s face it: we all get swept up in the holiday craziness. With such busy schedules and a never-ending to-do list, ‘tis the season to be stressed.
In fact, according to a survey conducted by Healthline, sixty-two percent of respondents described their stress level as “very or somewhat” elevated during the holidays.
While stress is inevitable this time of year, the good news is you can control how you respond to it. And being prepared is half the battle.
Here are seven simple yet effective stress-management tips:
- Practice self-care daily
Caught up in the craziness of the season, many of us forget to set aside time for ourselves. What makes you feel balanced? What helps you relax?
Some self-care habits to add to your daily routine include: nature walks, meditation breaks, taking a warm bath before bed, and writing a gratitude list.
By incorporating self-care in your schedule, you’ll be able to slow down and appreciate the simple things in life.
2. Be smart about your eating habits
With all of the high-carb and high-sugar temptation, staying healthy this time of year can a challenge. Here are a few guidelines:
- Indulge for a night, not a season – many people use the holidays as an excuse to overeat. You can still enjoy yourself, but be selective about when you choose to indulge.
- Control your portions – use a smaller plate, and take sample sizes of your favorite treats
- Maintain, don’t gain – managing your expectations is important. Trying to set weight loss goals is unrealistic, so instead, you should aim to maintain the same weight.
- Drink wisely – alcoholic beverages are not only high in calories, they can also lower our inhibitions, causing us to eat more than we should. Choose low-calorie, low-carb options when you can.
3. Keep your finances in check
Over-spending is a source of stress for many of us. That’s why it’s important to be realistic about what you can afford and stick to your budget.
If money is an issue, be savvy shopper! Even though Black Friday is over, there are deals all month long. There are also many creative gift ideas that aren’t expensive. For example, you can put together a photo book or bake someone’s favorite treat. There are many different ways to be thoughtful and show you care!
4. Set boundaries
This can apply to both your personal and professional relationships. If you have a demanding job, be sure to make work/life balance a priority. Don’t be afraid to say “no” to your boss if he asks you to work overtime this month. The holidays are a time for celebration and you deserve time off.
With family, there can be a lot of obligations and pressure that comes along with it. The meal prep, buying gifts, traveling and trying to split time between different relatives can be a struggle. That’s why setting boundaries is essential.
If you have too much going on, find ways to simplify this year. For instance, you can ask another relative to bake the desserts so you have time to do some last-minute shopping. In terms of family conflict, be mindful of what topics to avoid. If Uncle Tom brings up something awkward or embarrassing after a few cocktails, find a way to politely redirect or exit the conversation.
5. Give back
Ever heard of the “helper’s high”? It feels good to give and here’s why:
“Giving money to charity leads to similar brain activity in regions implicated in the experience of pleasure and reward,” Harvard Health reports.
In the study, brain activity was recorded while participants decided how to split $100 between themselves and a local food bank. Results showed that donating the money to the food bank activated the reward center of the brain.
6. Spend time outdoors at least once a day
Research shows there is a connection between Vitamin D and depression. Going outside daily is vital to your mental health. Even if it’s just a 20-minute walk around the block, you’ll thank yourself later.
Bonus tip: the sun is at its peak from 12 to 2pm, so you’ll get the most Vitamin D during that time.
If it’s too cold or you’re unable to go outdoors for some reason, open the blinds and let in as much natural light as you can. A well-lit environment is the best way to combat seasonal depression.
7. Get moving
When it comes to relieving stress, exercise can be your secret weapon. You may not always be able to do a full workout, but a little effort can go a long way.
To set yourself up for success, mix things up. Following the same routine day after day can get old fast. Explore different types of workouts. If running is your go-to in the morning, try yoga. (I highly recommend vinyasa – increases both flexibility and strength!)
While you may not be able to avoid stressful situations during the holidays, you can respond to them in a healthy way! These seven tips will help you stress less and stay on track.