Holidays are fun, but they can also be stressful. You may be dealing with visiting relatives, end-of-year work deadlines, meal planning, shopping, crowded malls, endless cleaning, needy family members, awful traffic, etc.
The good news is that some stress is good for you, because it gives you purpose, challenge, and a sense of achievement. For example, while it's stressful to host a meal for your family, it’s nice to do something for the people you love and share a delicious meal you prepared on your own and made with love.
On the other hand, lots of stress is not so great for us. When we are stressed, our cortisol levels increase. A sudden increase in cortisol levels causes a long list of problems. For example, you are at a greater risk for having a heart attack or stroke, as well as elevated blood sugar, increased belly fat, and memory loss.
So if you know the holidays really stress you out, your goal is to find things that will help balance you and help you feel good.
Here are some stress reducing activities to help you get through the holidays:
The first step towards managing your stress is to get a decent workout in every day. A good workout rejuvenates you and helps to produce endorphins, which make you calm.
- Take a hot yoga class- get out of your head and into your body. Visit Empower Yoga!
- Go for a run
Get a good night’s sleep:
People need a fresh start each day, but for many, a good night’s sleep is hard to come by.
- Stick to your schedule and try not to deviates by no more than 1 hour daily (2 hours max), even over the holidays.
- Use your bed for sleep and not work, tv, ipads, cell phones, etc.
- When you turn out the lights to sleep, be sure to keep the bedroom dark and quiet.
- Avoid bringing pets or children into your bed at night as they will wake you up.
Be mindful of your alcohol and caffeine intake:
If you have trouble sleeping, don’t consume more than 2 servings of caffeine during the day, and not more than 2 servings of alcohol in the evening. Extra caffeine and alcohol disrupts a good night’s sleep.
Get Off Your Feet:
If you’ve been on your feet all day working, shopping, or socializing, quickly relieve stress by giving your feet a break. Simply elevating or lifting your feet above your heart, can help you relax and recenter.
If traffic is backed up, or your in laws are testing your patience, go ahead and sigh. Take a minute to breathe. This is the body’s natural response to stress.
Relax your shoulders, neck, and upper back. Then, inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth, letting go of any stress and/or tension you may be feeling.
Schedule some peace and calm every day:
Many people eat well and exercise, yet they don’t schedule any time in their day for peace and calm. If you don’t have a daily relaxation routine, 10 to 20 minutes of soul calming activity, in place to manage the stress in your life, it probably won’t happen on its own.
- Make an appointment for a massage.
- Sign up for a yoga class. If hot or athletic yoga classes are too strenuous for you, opt for a relaxation yoga class- Empower Yoga offers a Yin Yoga class as well as a Recharge class.
- Meditate- give yourself 10 minutes to tune in and transform your negative thoughts.
Get outside and have fun!! Do something you love and enjoy a few times each week for your own health and sanity. Plan some activities that are fun for you, your family, and your close friends. When you are stressed, it’s nice to spend time with people who make you happy and who bring cheer.
As you reduce your stress, you’ll sleep better, eat more wisely, work out more, and feel better all around.