The inability to manage stress appropriately is one of the leading causes of poor health. Stress is amplified by the irregular schedules, financial concerns and the chaos that the holidays bring. According to WebMD’s Joanne Barker, The average American spends 42 hours a year on holiday activities. That’s one standard work week spent shopping, wrapping, and returning presents, attending holiday parties, and traveling from place to place. Often these extra activities get squeezed into already busy schedules.
It is important to remember that stress is not the same for everyone. It is your body’s response to what you perceive to be stressful. Therefore, you are in control of your stress level and your health.
With that said, here are 6 tips that can keep your stress level appropriate so you can enjoy your holidays to the fullest:
- Maintain your regular schedule and routine of healthy living. Don’t stop your exercise routine or your healthy eating habits. Continue drinking ample amounts of water and don’t overdo it on the sweets. Spiking your sugar levels can also spike your stress. You should also continue to get 6-8 hours of restful sleep per night.
- In addition to keeping your regular exercise routine, get out and walk after that big meal. This will not only keep you from going into a “food coma”, it will give you a chance to get out of the house to escape the one or two family members that may keep you on edge! “The rhythm and repetition of walking has a tranquilizing effect on your brain, and it decreases anxiety and improves sleep,” says nutrition-and-wellness expert Ann Kulze, MD.
- Get plenty of sunlight. This is especially important for people that reside in northern climates. Sunlight helps release the neurotransmitter, Serotonin, a feel good chemical that our bodies naturally produce. Spend time outdoors or near a window when the sun is out.
- Stop obsessing over doing it all. The world is not going to end if the house is a little cluttered or dinner is on the table a few minutes late. “Focus your energy on enjoying the people in your life,” says Donna Schempp, the program director for the Family Caregiver Alliance. Don’t sweat the small stuff and your holiday will be much more enjoyable!
- Go tech-free and consider a “digital detox”. Constant cell phone alerts, email dings, text buzzes etc. keep us in a constant defensive neurological state. Our systems are kept in the fight or flight state which keeps us stressed. Spending real, one on one time with your friends and family over the holidays is important for true connection and can help return us to a more relaxed state.
- Think positively. What you think about, you bring about. Don’t dwell on what might happen badly over the holidays, think about all of the positive aspects of this wonderful time of year. An optimistic outlook can help shape your reality and help you deal with any challenges that may arise.
However you spend it, we wish you a healthy and happy holiday season. Merry Christmas!