As much fun as the holiday season can be, it’s also notorious for stress. You have parties to plan, family politics to navigate, children to please and an increasingly challenging schedule to somehow work your way through. A fortunate few thrive in this environment, letting the extra pressure energize them. For the rest of us, that stress can mean consequences ranging from having less fun to getting ill.
To make the most of this holiday season, consider trying one of these proven stress-busters.
1. Breathing Vacation
Give yourself five minutes of alone time to simply sit and breathe. This can act as a “reset button” for your emotions and stress. Sit down and breathe in through your nose, out through your mouth, thinking only of the rhythm and timing of your breaths, for 10 to 20 cycles.
2. 10-Minute Sweat
Mild to moderate exercise not only helps reduce stress, it also gives you energy for the rest of the day. Get up early if you have to and take just 10 minutes for running, cycling or calisthenics. You’ll get your best results from something you can do without gear in your home. If even this small break gets too time-consuming, find some “micro-workouts” by parking at the far end of the lot, or walking a few blocks to the neighborhood holiday party.
3. Practice Saying “No”
Saying “no” to something during the holiday season is really just saying “yes” to something more important. It’s easy to get overbooked, then double-booked, then triple-booked during the holidays. Do yourself a favor and say “no” to everything that’s not A-list important. If this means promising to visit with friends in January, that’s okay. It clears a piece of their holiday calendar, too.
4. Carry Healthy Snacks
People stress-eat. So do you. If you rely on what’s in the environment around you, you’ll be noshing on cookies, candies and mall court fast food. That means gaining weight, losing energy and even compromising your immune system. Instead, go forth into the world armed with a zipper bag of veggie sticks, a piece of fruit and a low-sugar protein bar.
5. Learn to Delegate
You don’t have to do it all yourself. Say it with me now: “I don’t have to do it all myself.” Although most people understand this concept in theory, it’s surprising how few apply it during the holiday madness. Remember — half the stress you’ll be experiencing will come from the number of people you’ll be around all season. Use some of them. They’ll be happy to help.
Here’s the thing about smiling. When you’re happy and relaxed, you smile, but the opposite is also true. When you smile, that physical motion triggers hormone release in your brain that helps you become happy and relaxed. We’re not talking about the “plastic happy face” smile, here, but a genuine toothy grin. If you’re worried or stressed out, think of something that brings a smile to your face.
Any other holiday stress help you’ve heard of or used? Tell us about it — or just vent over last night’s party — in the comments below.
“Getting Things Done,” David Allen