Tis the season to be stressed the f*ck out?
Even during the most wonderful time of the year, we all experience stress. You’re not a total Grinch if you get overwhelmed by the crowds, the social gatherings, and the extra financial stress that comes with the holidays. The key is not to let it take over so you can enjoy the holidays the way they were meant to be.
You’ve got a million things to do, places to go and people to see. And you and I both know that Santa’s gotta deliver and the dinner table is not going to set itself. So, when slowing down is not an option, here are five quick tips to relieve holiday stress:
Sip Stress Away
No, not wine (sorry)... WATER! We all know the importance of hydration, yet some of us still struggle to get the recommended amount of h20 in a day. Aside from feeling headachey and fatigued, being dehydrated can increase stress levels in the body. According to the director of performance nutrition at Athletes’ Performance, Amanda Carlson, RD, “Studies have shown that being just half a liter dehydrated can increase your cortisol levels. When you don’t give your body the fluids it needs, you’re putting stress on it, and it’s going to respond to that.”
If you’re someone who doesn’t drink enough water, remember that La Croix and herbal tea are hydrating, too. We also recommend getting a water bottle like this one, that will help you stay on track with your water intake.
Take A Breather
The hustle and bustle of the holidays can result in overstimulation and stress. Thankfully, our bodies have a built-in stress reliever that’s with us everywhere we go: Breathing! Breath allows you to pause and respond, rather than react. So, if you can, go to a quiet space (a bathroom or closet will do) and close your eyes. Place your hand on your lower abdomen and your other hand on your heart. Breathe in, and allow your belly to expand and your chest to naturally lift. Exhale, and draw your navel toward your spine. Repeat five times, being mindful of how it feels to breathe deeply.
As with anything, deep breathing is a practice. Practice this regularly so that when you are stressed out, you know you can always turn to this mindfulness trick and get re-centered. And if you want a little guidance, try the Headspace app. We’re big fans of this app, which teaches you how to meditate any time, anywhere - even if you only have 5 mins.
Know Your Triggers
For some, the holidays can be very triggering. That’s why it’s especially important at this time of year to be tuned in to what causes you stress in the first place. Take a moment to write them down, reflect, and come up with a game plan. This doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be affected by your triggers, but being prepared will make you leave you feeling empowered and less susceptible to being triggered in the first place. It’s worth taking a moment to think about this - promise!
For example, many people say that having lots of family around can be a source of tension. The best thing to do is to prepare yourself with some options in your toolkit for better ways to handle tough or annoying situations. Another major trigger for some people is the rich food and booze galore that comes with the holidays. If certain foods send you into a downward spiral of shame and guilt, prepare yourself by eating before the holiday party, or bringing a healthy dish that you know will make you feel good.
Make Time For Movement
Don’t wait ‘til January to get into a fitness routine. NOW is the time to prioritize exercise.
Exercise is one of the top stress relievers because it produces endorphins and relieves tension in the body. And remember, you don’t have to carve out hours at the gym. Simply find ways to be more active every day. We know you love to multitask, so try walking to the market to grab what you need for your dinner party, or, use the stairs when shopping for gifts at the mall.
We love to plan simple at-home workouts that don't require a lot of space or equipment. That way, if you're traveling or have visitors, you can sneak in a morning workout in the basement without waking anyone up!
It’s easy to get caught up in the holiday madness, but don’t lose sight of the things that matter most. Studies show that gratitude allows you to detach from a stressful period and savor a positive memory or experience.
Cultivate an attitude of gratitude by taking a few minutes each night to jot down who and what you’re grateful for and why. This quick mindfulness exercise will keep you from running on auto-pilot and keep everything in perspective.
The best thing you can do for you is to find easy ways to stay committed to your health through the holidays. Take your Stress Fighter daily, take a walk, and drink your water. You CAN do it all, and have fun doing it. Happy Holidays!