Whatever happened to stress-free holidays? Those times where you could sit back, put up your feet and enjoy the season? These days it seems like holiday stress is the name of the game. Thankfully, it’s is possible to enjoy the season with holiday stress-relief tips.
Holiday Habits That Are Causing You Stress
Human beings love tradition, but we are often plagued by habit. You romanticize and do things that, for all intents and purposes, stress you out. You don’t mean to cause yourself harm; you have the best of intentions, but no matter what, you end up stressing yourself out. The holidays can manifest this stress.
Shopping, hosting parties, finances, (even your mother-in-law) can all be major sources of stress during the holiday season. You may want to please those you care about, but it can sometimes take a real toll on your health.
Surveys repeatedly show that Americans actually expect to be stressed throughout the holiday season. But you know what? You don’t have to be. There are natural ways to deal with holiday stress that can help you enjoy the season, breathe easy and navigate through this fast-paced month.
Stress Relief Tips for After the Holidays
When January 2nd hits and the holidays are officially over, it’s time to recover. Even the best planners feel the burn at the conclusion of the season; there is simply too much to do and too little time.
There are a number of ways you can recharge and reduce the stress of the holidays to help start your year off right.
1. Get some rest: Coffee, necessity and adrenaline might get you through the holidays, but then you’ll have to pay the price. Rest and sleep have a huge impact on stress, so regulating your sleep cycle is one of the best natural methods of stress relief. Practice a sleep schedule for the next month, setting and sticking to a particular bedtime and wake up time.
2. Exercise: Another essential component of stress relief is exercise. And I know it’s a stereotypical New Year’s resolution, but including some moderate-vigorous exercise into your week can offer some major stress-busting results. Try to do a form of physical activity, such as walking, dancing, spinning, or resistance training, three to five times per week. Exercise releases endorphins that lower stress and improve mood, while offering a form of release when you need it. Furthermore, regular exercise can improve sleeping habits.
3. Clean up your diet: Most people overeat during the holidays, it’s a fact. Between big meals and plenty of baking it is not uncommon to see diets slip a bit during the holidays. Poor eating habits can also increase stress and exacerbate the symptoms of stress by boosting inflammation and causing hormonal imbalances. Junk food can make you feel depressed, strip you of energy and encourage crashes, so combat this by increasing consumption of lean, nutrient-dense foods that keep you energized. Fruits, vegetables, healthy fats and lean proteins all keep you full, limit inflammation and keep you feeling good.
4. Aromatherapy: Some scents can trigger relaxation and improve your mood almost instantly. Lavender and vanilla, in particular, can calm your nerves and help relieve stress. You can use oils in the bath, burn them in your house or even apply them to your skin when you’re out in public for some stress relief during and after the holidays. The University of Maryland Medical Center reports that lavender may slow activity in the nervous system and improve sleep quality, encourage relaxation and relieve stress. By a similar token, there are some suggestions that the scent of vanilla can increase feelings of joy and relaxation.
5. Focus on breathing: Another good way to relieve holiday stress, and handle stressful situations, is to regulate and slow your breathing. An effective stress-relieving breathing technique is known as 4, 7, 8. To effectively do 4, 7, 8 you’ll have to sit up straight to allow your diaphragm to maximize oxygen intake. Once you’re in the position, place the tip of your tongue against the back of your teeth—you’ll keep it there throughout the entire process. Take a deep breath through your nose, the breath should last for four seconds, and then hold it in your lungs for seven seconds. Begin to exhale through your mouth; let it last for eight seconds. Repeat another three times. Regulating your breathing can slow your heart rate and help distribute oxygen more efficiently, resulting in a calming effect.
6. Drink tea: Chamomile tea and other decaffeinated herbal teas may also help relieve stress. Try drinking tea while sitting down comfortably and reading a good book. You can also use chamomile oil to add to a bath, as some of the compounds in oil may induce relaxation.
7. Live in the moment: One of the major causes of stress is an inability to live in the moment. You might be spending so much time thinking about what you have to do next, that what you’re currently doing passes you by. This makes it very difficult to experience joy and happiness because you’re never really present. An easy way to naturally relieve stress, especially during the holidays, is to embrace your surroundings and engage yourself. Don’t think about what you didn’t do or still need to do, but rather what you’re currently doing. When you give yourself the opportunity to enjoy yourself, you’ll notice the stress subside.
Recommended: Listen to Music to Beat Holiday Stress
Leave the Holiday Stress Behind You This Year!
These natural tips to relieve holiday stress can help you recover from the holiday hassles. Try implementing these stress-relieving techniques into your lifestyle and use them to help you in any situation you might encounter.
Sources for Today’s Article:
Alvarez, M., “10 ways to relieve stress naturally,” Fox News web site, December 24, 2013; http://www.foxnews.com/health/2012/01/27/10-ways-to-relieve-stress-naturally.html, last accessed December 16, 2015.
Ehrlich, S., “Lavender,” University of Maryland Medical Center web site, January 2, 2015; https://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/lavender.