The holidays are one of the most exciting and anticipated times of the year. The lights, music, food and festivities bring so much joy! However, so much stimulation in such a compact time frame can also be very stressful. Lack of time, financial concerns, family dynamics and gift-giving pressure are all linked to holiday stress and anxiety. But this time of year doesn’t have to be traumatic.
Here are nine positive ways to boost your mood, reduce your stress and make it through the holidays with joy in your heart!
Exercise raises serotonin levels in the brain, naturally boosting mood and energy. Raising your heart rate and breaking a sweat increases circulation throughout the body and removes toxins. Doing movement in a way that brings happiness is different for everyone, but for many, doing a workout in a group environment, outdoors or with a pet is motivating and gratifying! Joining a class, going for a hike or taking a stroll with your pup around the neighborhood are all great options!
There is nothing like waking up to that morning cup of coffee or sitting down for tea. But depending on how your body metabolizes caffeine, it could also be a downfall. Caffeine’s stimulating power can bring feelings of anxiety or nervousness, as well as keep you up at night.
The abundance of activities and extra chores that happen during the holidays make it easy to feel overwhelmed or miss something on your agenda. Making a to-do list is helpful to see what needs to be done and is satisfying when you cross off items. Since a list can be updated throughout the season, new items or forgotten events that could keep you up at night are no longer stealing your sleep.
Chewing naturally calms the body as it gets the digestive system turning. Not only can gum help with reducing stress internally, it can also help reduce external stress. Chewing gum is a great reason to turn down a seasonal treat that doesn’t fit into your healthy lifestyle. Depending on the flavor, it can also meet the desire for sweets or freshen your breath from your caffeine intake!
Taking a bath or hot shower is very relaxing. Use Epsom salts for tired muscles or essential oils for restoration. Light a scented candle for relaxation or joyful holiday smells. Those little rays of light dancing around the room bring calm and happiness.
It has been said that laughter is the best medicine. It’s true, especially when it comes to reducing stress, depression and anxiety. Laughter has also been shown to increase immune cells and antibodies that help boost your natural resistance to disease and illness.
Taking time daily to meditate can help reduce stress and increase focus. Bringing yourself back to the moment, even for five minutes, can decrease chronic pain, anxiety, depression, heart disease and high blood pressure.
The to-do list isn’t going anywhere. Start with the items that need immediate attention and are quick to accomplish. Then, just start ticking down the list. If there is an item you find particularly unpleasant, do that one first. It will relieve weight off your shoulders and make it easier for you to follow through with the remaining items. If an item feels too big, break it down into smaller pieces to tick off to illustrate how far you are in the process. If you need help, ask for it! This is the time of year people are reaching out to serve each other — let someone help you!
This may be the hardest yet most stress-reducing item on the list! Say “no” when you’re out of time, money or patience! You do not need a reason or an excuse. A simple, “No, I am not available,” “Sorry, that is outside of my bandwidth,” “Ask me next year, I may be in a better position to help,” or the good old “I just don’t want to.” There are many things in life that are required, but overtaxing yourself during the holidays isn’t one of them.
May your holidays bring joy, love and fun into your life. When the stress starts to creep in, take a breath, find a way to calm yourself, and choose happiness. The holidays are for you too, so celebrate and be happy! Cheers!
About the Author
Coach Kati Epps is the founder of MyBody GX with a background in chemistry from Colorado State University, an ACE certified personal trainer, health coach and nutrition specialist.