12 Tips for Holiday Stress Relief

12/10/2013

This time of year it can be easy to feel like "Ho Ho Ho" turns into "Go, Go, Go!"

Are you running around, overbooked with daily tasks, overstretched with commitments, over-spending, over eating and feeling just all-around overwhelmed? If this sounds like you, help is on its way!

Read on to learn these 12 tips for holiday stress relief.

Fuse/Thinkstock
Listening to music can relax you and help you to feel less anxious during the chaos of the holiday season.

1. Take a "Time-Out"— With Music! Make yourself a holiday song playlist and listen to the music, relax, and allow yourself to enjoy. Listening to music can decrease your body’s stress hormone levels and lower blood pressure, breathing rate, and heart rate, as well as decrease anxiety.

2. Play like a kid. If snow is on the ground, make a snowman or become a snow angel. If snow hasn’t made an appearance yet this season, play with the kids. Playful exercise and activity releases our “feel good” hormones, known as endorphins. One additional benefit of playing with kids is that we smile more and believe it or not, that alone is a great stress reliever!

3. It’s okay to single-task. Instead of multitasking all the time, try to focus on the task at hand instead of thinking of everything else that you need to do. So, whether it’s decorating or making holiday treats, try to enjoy the colors, laughter, smells, tastes and memories of happy times instead of running from one task to the next.

4. Unplug. For one special day disconnect from the time stressors of replying to your work email or text messages and go back to the days when you communicated in person, checked (on your own time) letters from the post office, and called or answered phone calls on your landline at your convenience. This allows your mind to unwind and decrease its high alert status.

Digital Vision/Thinkstock5. Bring nature inside. Look out the window, take a few deep breaths in and out and check out the birds, wildlife and colors of the sky. This allows the mind to wander and imagine. Pine wreaths, which can be purchased at most Christmas tree vendors are also a natural “mood lifter” provided by mother nature herself.

6. Express Gratitude. Gratefulness adds perspective and helps us to focus on what is “good” in our lives. For tips on how to cultivate gratitude, click here.

7. Learn to say ‘No’. Remove the gift of guilt by taking time to yourself and allowing yourself to enjoy the holiday season. The decision to not just “Yes” to every request that you get can help keep you from over-committing, over-promising and over-visiting. You are human -- not Superwoman.

8. Get your zzzzz’s. Consistent and quality sleep is heart healthy and will boost your overall health and immune system, improve memory and concentration, and  help to prevent weight gain, as well as get you through the holiday season without having a mental breakdown!

9. Eat right. Eating high quality foods (those are low in sugar, salt, and contain zero Trans-fats) such as fruits and vegetables, and other high fiber foods, will give your body more energy and help you to get the vitamins and minerals that you need for better health and a happier holiday season.

10. Try some yoga or Tai Chi. Both of these activities can be designed for all fitness and age levels (speak with your physician for health clearance prior to enrolling in a class). Both yoga and Tai Chi improve one’s “functional fitness.” In other words, they improve flexibility, strength and balance, as well as breathing and ability to concentrate and reduce anxiety. As a result, these activities lower heart rate and improve functional skills such as picking up the grandkids, getting up from a seated position, going up and down stairs, etc. and will lighten the burden during your holiday season. iStock/Thinkstock

11. Volunteer. Giving your time to important causes and for those in need lifts the spirits of others, as well as yourself. Volunteering also provides a feeling of helping and takes the focus off of us and places it onto others.

12. Let yourself really feel your emotions. This time of year can bring up many memories of happy times as well as sadness and loss. Instead of acting as if everything is fine and keeping your feelings tucked away deep inside -- let them out! Only through releasing these emotions will you be able to move forward in a healthy way.

Happy Holidays to all!

– Dr. Rob


Dr. Rob believes in preventative and integrative approaches to medicine. He specializes in family medicine as well as children's health and wellness.
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