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Holiday Stress Management

It’s the most “stressful” time of the year.


For many of us, the holidays are associated with negative feelings, hectic schedules, and overall stress. Not to mention, the challenges of COVID-19. What if this year you could stress less and enjoy more?


I’d like to share some tips for stress management during the holiday season:


1. Breathe.

Try paying attention to your breath when you are relaxed vs. when you are stressed. Can you tell a difference? Deep breathing allows the body to send signals to your brain that relax and calm the sympathetic nervous system. This in turn, allows you to stay present, feel your feelings and hopefully enjoy your environment.


2. Try getting organized.

Consider planning out what you’d like to do over the holiday. This might include shopping for loved ones, errands, and holiday activities you’d like to engage in. I’m always thankful when I don’t wait until the last minute to try to tackle everything I’d like to do. And, if I don’t get to everything, there’s always next year! :)


3. Engage in flexibility.

If I have learned anything this year, it is to be flexible. With COVID-19, your family gatherings may look different this year. Although you may have a plan, be prepared to make changes, and laugh a little if you can. I generally feel better when I let myself go with the flow and try to look for the good that comes out of it. If nothing else, I know I’ll survive!


4. Let yourself say “no.”

With “Friendsgivings,” work parties, family gatherings, school functions, finals, etc…, this season can be CRAZY. Ask yourself what is important to you and say “no” to the rest. This can be one of your most powerful tools.


5. Stay active.

As the weather gets cooler and schedules get fuller, it can be more difficult to find time for body movement. Try to make it a priority to get outside for some fresh air while moving your body. It can often reduce stress and give you clarity of mind.


6. Nourish yourself regularly.

This holiday season comes once a year, so enjoy the foods that come with it. Challenge yourself to try something new, honor your hunger and eat until you are satisfied. Here’s to feeling your best and enjoying your time with others!


7. Get some sleep.

This may be challenging for many of us this season, however, work to make it a priority to get adequate sleep. Adequate sleep can help with appetite regulation as well as stress levels.2 Put your phone down, turn off the tv, and take yourself to bed!


8. Practice mindfulness.

If you can, schedule some time (even if it’s five minutes) to experience something positive about the holiday season. For me, the lights of Christmas make me happy. This is why I always make a point to drive around town and look at what others have done, but I also enjoy looking at my own Christmas tree at the end of the workday…add a cup of cocoa and it’s complete for me. Happy Holidays!



“It’s the most WONDERFUL time of the year!”



References:

1. https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/uz2255

2. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/connection-between-sleep-and-overeating

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