The Holidays Are Upon Us Once Again! For many people, this can bring stress and anxiety. Before you let your worries get the best of you, read on to learn how to have a stress-free holiday with these easy tips.
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Halloween has passed and we are now officially in the holiday season! As I sit here and reminisce about last year and many other Christmases past I am excited about the upcoming holiday.
Unfortunately, for a lot of people, this time brings a wave of stress, sadness, and depression. Whether it is trying to find that perfect gift or dreading the visit from your overbearing relatives, it can lead to being anxious and unhappy.
Though you may feel this is just a normal part of the holiday season, in reality, the physiological stress of these couple months can be overbearing on your body and lead to serious health issues. According to a 2006 study by the American Psychological Association (APA) women are more at risk for holiday stress and were more likely to indulge in unhealthy behaviors to deal with their holiday stress.
So instead of getting wasted at your holiday party or inhaling those treats in the break room follow these 10 tips to have a happy holiday without the stress!
Stress-Free Holiday Tip #1 Be Thankful and Practice Gratitude
Take this time of year we tend to focus on the negative things going on. Remember that song “The 12 Pains of Christmas?” Instead focus each day on what is positive in your life. Listing three things that you are grateful for will help you re-shift your attention in a more constructive way. It can be something as little as being happy that the sun is shining or thankful for your hot running shower. Think about the little things we take for granted each day and rejoice for having them.
Gratitude practices have also been shown to improve mental health. So start that gratitude list today!
Stress-Free Holiday Tip #2 Get Enough Sleep
With all the running around, holiday parties, shopping, and wrapping we may not get our best sleep. I find that is better is to get up early instead of staying up late. This way you will not be as tired and will have extra time in the morning to cross off those items on your to-do list.
So take an hour or two in the morning when it is quiet and peaceful and work what needs to get done.
Stress-Free Holiday Tip #3 Write Down Your Feelings
For me putting pen to paper is really helpful when I am stressed, sad, or angry. It gives me an outlet to get out my feelings while also being able to reflect on what the trigger may be. This can help you from getting upset in the future.
Stress-Free Holiday Tip #4 Limit Your Sugar Intake
I remember when I worked in advertising and there was a ton of food all over the office from all the sales reps who sent gifts of food and candy. It was hard not to resist those tasty treats. Know that the more you indulge in these foods the more your stress and depression will linger. Sugar will only make you feel good for a little bit but you eventually will come off your high and feel down in the dumps.
A good rule of thumb is to have only 6 teaspoons (about 24 grams) of added sugar a day. If you have a health condition you should avoid as much added sugar as possible or stick to about only 4 teaspoons (16 grams) of added sugar a day.
Stress-Free Holiday Tip #5 Get Some Sunlight
This time of year the days are short and the nights are long. This can leave us feeling like we never see the light of day. Take time to get some sun and go outdoors. On the days you are not working take a hike outside or go for a walk in the park.
Be sure to spend time outside if possible. Getting 15 minutes of sunlight on your hands and face should do the trick. This will give you the vitamin D you so need to lower the stress hormones. If you work in an office and do not have any windows to the outside take at least one break. This time of year the days are darker longer and trapped in offices with no windows we never see the light of day.
A lack of this nutrient can contribute to feeling sad and stressed. You may want to get your vitamin D tested. If it is less than 90 ng/mL you may need to get more sunlight.
Stress-Free Holiday Tip #6 Exercise Your Stress Away
Whenever I am sad, depressed, or anxious I find that working out really shifts my mood to the positive. Those endorphins you are pumping out will help to keep your holiday stress in check and wash your holiday worries away. It doesn’t have to be anything intense. Even just going for a long walk or doing some stretches can help to ease your stress.
Stress-Free Holiday Tip #7 Increase Your Intake of Vegetables
Ideally, you should be getting at least 9 to 10 servings of vegetables a day. According to the CDC, less than 9 percent of Americans are getting this in their diet. Increase your vegetable servings to help combat stress and anxiety this holiday season. Colorful vegetables have antioxidant properties that will help to combat the inflammation caused by stress.
Vitamin C found in colorful veggies will also ease the physiological effects of cortisol production when the body is under stress. Stress can constrict blood vessels and increase your blood pressure. The fiber found in veggies will help to send a wave of calm over the body. It can relax blood vessels and lower your blood flow. So be sure to eat some veggies at every meal.
Stress-Free Holiday Tip #8 Have Fun, Smile & Laugh Every Day
Take time to have fun. Do something you enjoy. Have a fond memory of a holiday? Re-create it. Plan family gatherings and get together with friends to laugh and talk. Take time to call, text, or email someone you haven’t seen in a while. Watch a fun holiday movie with your family members. Having something fun to look forward to can help put you in a good mood.
If you can’t think of anything to laugh at even just make a smile and hold it for a few minutes you will see that your mood will improve.
Stress-Free Holiday Tip #9 Avoid the Malls and Shop Online
I hate going to the stores even when it isn’t the holidays. What I have found is that shopping online is the best way to plan ahead. You can avoid the lines, know exactly how much you are spending before you leave, and get it delivered straight to your house. This will also free up time for more important things you need to get done for the holiday season.
Want to get cashback this year on your holiday spending? Try Rakuten. It gives you a percentage of cash back at most stores you shop at. The best is this time of year they are offering double cashback on a lot of stores.
Stress-Free Holiday Tip #10 Ask for Help if You Need It Or Outsource if You Can
A lot of us will bear the brunt of all the holiday chores and preparations because we feel like they need to be just perfect. Incorporating help from those in your family will bring you closer together and create holiday memories that will last a lifetime.
Have a lot to get done? Get your kids or significant other to pitch in to write holiday cards, bake, and clean the house.
Having company over for dinner? Do a potluck to share the brunt of the cooking.
If you can hire someone to help you with tasks definitely outsource it. Hire someone to go grocery shopping, help clean your house, or wrap your gifts. Food shopping can be a big pain. Luckily today there are services like Instacart and Shipt that can do the shopping for you. Or have groceries delivered right to your door with Amazon Grocery, Thrive Market, Fresh Direct, and Butcher Box.
There are even services online that you can hire people to do jobs for you that you don’t have time to get done. You can hire a virtual assistant or put an ad on Facebook or Craig’s List. Websites like Fancy Hands, TaskRabbit, and Perssist are sites that have people on call to help you with things you need to get done.
Learning to keep your stress and anxiety in check this time of year will improve your health and happiness now and in the year to come.
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