‘Tis the season to be merry! But for many people, the holidays are full of stress and anxiety. The never-ending list of presents to buy, the crowds while shopping, the back-to-back parties, and all the socializing can make the most wonderful time of the year feel not so wonderful.
Also, stress can increase your risk of fatigue, high blood pressure, heart disease, and belly fat. We know that these symptoms and more stress are definitely not on your wish list this year.
That’s why we’ve gathered a list of 20 stress-relieving tips to save your holidays spirits and your health.
1. Be realistic and forget perfection.
The holidays will never be perfect, and things don’t need to be exactly like last year. Families grow and traditions change–and this is okay. Also, the world is not going to end if the house is a bit cluttered or dinner is running a few minutes late. Don’t sweat the small stuff, and you will feel much less stressed!
2. Forget the past and put your rose-colored glasses on.
Accept all your family members and friends just as they are. Postpone old arguments and grievances. If your family and friends aren’t quite as accepting or forgiving, just put your rose-colored glasses on. Do you best to bring people together, and try to be grateful rather than annoyed.
3. Stick to a budget.
Set a specific budget before you go food and gift shopping, and make sure to stick to it. Money can be one of the biggest stresses of the holidays, but remember that you can’t buy anyone’s happiness. A few ways to save money are starting a family gift exchange, making homemade gifts, and being generous with your compliments, time, and love.
4. Plan ahead.
In addition to setting a strict budget, you should also make a plan and follow it. Set aside days for shopping, baking, visiting friends, and any other activities you need to get done during the holidays. Also, make lists before you go shopping to avoid last-minute scrambling.
5. Slow down and say no.
Your calendar is most likely packed during the holiday season. Don’t say yes to more than you can handle because you will end up feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Your friends, family, and colleagues will understand if you can’t help with every project or activity. Learn to say no, and you will feel a great weight lifted off your shoulders.
6. Don’t abandon healthy habits.
Stick with your regular daily routine so the holidays don’t become a free-for-all. Prioritize your daily activities, and try not to overindulge. Also, remember to get plenty of sleep.
7. Fit in exercise.
One of the best ways to overcome stress is to exercise regularly. Exercise has been found to reduce anger, tension, fatigue, and confusion. Research has found that workouts can boost your mood for up to 12 hours, and that rigorous exercise increases your body’s production of endorphins (feel-good neurotransmitters). So even if physical activity is the last thing you feel like doing, make time for exercise this holiday season.
8. Spend time outside and by yourself.
Spend time alone without distractions, clear your mind, and restore your inner calm. A few ways to do this are to take a walk, get a massage, or read a book. Also, spend time in the sun. Sunlight stimulates the production of feel-good serotonin, and it helps relieve seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
9. Find ways to laugh.
Make time for the things that crack you up, whether it’s your favorite TV show, a local comedy club, or your hilarious friend. Laughing reduces stress hormones, which in turn help immune cells function better.
10. Turn up the tunes.
Feeling stressed or anxious? Turn on your favorite music. Research has shown that listening to music you love relaxes blood vessels, increased blood flow, calms you down, and is good for your heart.
11. Seek professional help if you need it.
Even with the best stress management techniques, you may still feel persistently sad, anxious, have physical complaints, can’t sleep, and feel unable to face routine chores. If these feelings last, consult a doctor or a mental health professional.
We’ve also gathered a list of foods that have calming or stress relieving properties. Who knew you could eat your way to calm?
12. Don’t fill up on empty calories.
During the holidays, it’s easy to overconsume alcohol, sugar, carbs, and caffeine because there are treats everywhere you turn. One way to combat these temptations is to have a healthy snack before holiday parties so you don’t go overboard. Another tip is to think of the polite portion rule. When offered goodies, try to just take three to five polite bites or sips.
13. Smell citrus.
Research has shown that citrus fragrances boost hormones that affect your mood. Dab some lemon or orange essential oil on your clothing for an all-day pick-me-up or eat some citrus fruits for a snack.
14. Make oatmeal for breakfast.
Oatmeal contains healthy carbohydrates and fiber that boost serotonin levels and keep you full.
15. Drink chamomile tea.
Chamomile tea is proven to reduce anxiety in adults. So make stress time your new teatime.
16. Tuck into turkey.
Turkey contains tryptophan which induces feelings of calm when broken down. Remember if tryptophan is going to reach your brain, you need to pair it with carbs.
17. Munch on almonds.
A handful of almonds contain 20% of your daily-recommended intake of magnesium. Not getting enough magnesium can trigger migraines and cause fatigue. Almonds also contain high levels of vitamin E and B, which may protect your immune system and mood.
18. Swap out regular potatoes for sweet potatoes.
Sweet potatoes are full of nutrients and antioxidants that improve mood. They are also high in other mood boosters like B6 and magnesium.
19. Savor a spicy meal.
Spicy foods trigger the release of endorphins, which are natural feel-good chemicals.
20. Spread some honey.
Honey provides instant energy that lasts. It also has antioxidants and antibacterial properties that may improve your immunity.