Happy Holidays! Or is it happy? For some, it’s a time of stress, anxiety and overwhelm. This year without a doubt, looks a little different than most. So if you’re feeling like you need a little extra support to get through the holidays, first know that you’re not alone, and second, check out these 5 quick easy tips to help you manage stress and anxiety over the holidays.
1. Get Active. Winter is a particularly sluggish time of the year and getting your sweat on might be the last thing on your mind. At least 30 minutes of exercise will release endorphins, your body’s natural stress and anxiety reducing hormone. Even movements that are considered slower, like yoga or stretching count. Or strapping on some winter boots and going for a walk. Better yet, get some friends over Facetime and Zoom (lockdown considering) and get on a scheduled livestream to cheer each other on.
2. Bring on the Funnies. Double dip into couch potato vibes by watching something funny and let your body’s natural chemical reactions reduce stress hormones (cortisol, epinephrine, adrenaline) and trigger the brain’s reward and pleasure centers with “feel good” neurotransmitters: dopamine, serotonin and endorphins! Laughter truly is the best medicine to quashing winter blues and holiday stress.
3. Temper down on the booze. This is a particularly festive time of year where varying liquids of gold to deep burgundy, bubblies along with festive smells of spice get consumed. I am just as guilty when it comes to a glass or too many of wine, or putting a little too much spirit in my spirit! During this time of merriment, alcohol can suppress your immune system, trigger anxiety and disrupt your sleep. So the best way to manage this? Alternate a glass of water for every alcoholic drink and if you happen to be around people, keep your alcoholic beverage half full so no one is too eager to “top it up”.
4. Balance out the meal. We eat a lot of carb and protein in the winter months as our bodies naturally try to “fatten up”. Large servings of mashed potatoes, turkey and ham are hard to resist! But choosing more veggies to balance out the meal will help you curb those sugar highs and crashes that carbs give you. Your body will thank you for the more balanced nutritional intake and overall you will feel better. If this disappoints your salivating mouth during a holiday feasting, think of it less of a limitation – fill your plate with balanced options before going for seconds, so you get full first before you can indulge some more.
5. Slow down. These darker more dreary days calls for more quiet time and reflection. Do things like, take a bath (with some candlelight for some mood setting vibes). No bathtub? No problem, a footsoak can be just as beneficial. The intent is to trigger your body to eliminate tension and anxiety. At least 15 – 20 min to bring on the restorative qualities. Once you start, you won’t want to stop!
Journal, write down your thoughts, frustrations, woes from the past year that has sure been a curveball for so many of us. Studies have proven journaling to be an incredible stress management tool as well as a memory and mood booster. Try it first thing in the morning or as part of your bedtime routine.
Still groaning at the thought of all this time out? You’re stressed for time after all. Well, 5 minutes then, of straight up breathing or meditation. Add a reminder and timer on your phone and do this when you wake up, in the middle of the day or just before bed. Breathing and meditating calms the nervous system. Easiest way to start is with something called “box breathing” – 4 secs each inhale, hold, exhale, hold… and repeat.
These 5 steps are meant to be easy! Add as many of these into your routine or just one. One actionable is all it takes to reduce stress and anxiety. Save this graphic as a quick reminder!
To a less stressful and anxiety filled holiday!
I want to hear your thoughts! Did you try any of these? What results did you get? Comment below!