De-Stress this Holiday Season!
With the arrival of the holiday season, too many of us feel that familiar “holiday stress” creeping up. Isn’t this season supposed to be a fun-filled and joyous time? Why then do so many of us now complain of feeling increased stress? Whatever the cause, help is on the way with my top 7 holiday stress busting tips.
De-stressing is so important (all year long) because physical and emotional stress negatively impact our health. Research supports the link between stress and conditions like heart disease, hypertension, headaches and mental health conditions like depression and anxiety. Stress is also a contributor in making certain conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, asthma and insomnia worse. Therefore, decreasing your stress will benefit both your physical and your emotional health.
Decreasing your stress will benefit both your physical and your emotional health. Click To Tweet
If you are experiencing increased stress, my top stressing busting strategies will keep you feeling at ease during your shopping adventures, your meal preparation marathons and while entertaining large groups. The holidays should be a time for enjoyment and the best Christmas gift to you is a stress-free holiday season.
Andrea’s Holiday Stress Reduction Checklist:
1. Go for a Walk: Research supports the benefits of going for a short walk (even 10 minutes) to decrease stress by boosting endorphins (feel good hormones) while simultaneously reducing the stress hormone cortisol. Surrounding yourself with the great outdoors will enable you to experience a meditative state because the mind can focus on what is surrounding you instead of focusing on whatever is causing you stress. Make it a priority to go for a walk daily.
2. Eat well! What we eat affects how we feel! The connection between our gut and our mind was explored in my past blog (Gut-Brain Connection). In order to keep your mind in top shape, choose nutritious foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy, plant based proteins and fatty fish to boost your energy levels and elevate your mood.
3. Pay Attention to your Breathing: We breathe all day long but often do not take notice of this as a simple powerful practice to decrease stress. This is a key principle of yoga practice. The proper breathing etiquette is to slowly breathe in and push your tummy outward and while you exhale, your stomach lowers. This type of deep “belly breathing” is best for keeping you calm. Close your eyes and pay attention to your next five deep breaths and enjoy the instant feelings of relaxation.
4. Relax your Body to Relax your Mind: This is a principle from Dr. Melemis, a medical doctor in Toronto specializing in mental health. He states that you must relax your body before your mind can relax. Therefore, instead of trying to intercept your stressful thoughts, focus on systematically relaxing different parts of your body (i.e., facial muscles, stomach and toes). By bringing your attention to different muscle groups (also known as progressive muscle relaxation), you will find that your mind will become more peaceful.
5. Sleep Well: Try getting to bed earlier and be wary of the tendency to sacrifice sleep in effort to complete more holiday tasks. Sleep allows our bodies to feel energized and happier the next day with a sharper focus. So don’t skip out on catching those zzz’s because you need and deserve them.
6. Take Time for what you LOVE: Let’s face it; you cannot possibly do it all! So really, why even try? Set a list for your top three tasks to complete for the day and then prioritize what is really important to you and align with your values. Make time for your family and friends or take time to relax and read a good book, watch a movie or make a delicious meal. By doing something you love each day, you are nurturing your spirit, which decreases stress and enhances well-being.
Doing something you love each day decreases stress and enhances well-being. Click To Tweet
7. You Gotta have Faith: Worrying causes stress and anxiety so why not alleviate this mental and physical strain of trying to predict (and control) future outcomes by placing your trust in a higher power. Rest assured that you are right where you need to be and complete with the skills you need to succeed. Life is about the journey and not only the final destination.
Hope you enjoyed my top de-stressing tips and enjoy a peaceful holiday season!