The holidays are supposed to be about enjoying, right? Visiting family and friends, sharing meals, giving gifts, and making memories…There is just one problem. For many of us, all of the responsibility that comes along with making all of those memories and achieving the “picture perfect holiday” brings with it a lot of stress. So, how can you enjoy your holiday and make memories without all of this stress? By trying a few of my favorite holiday stress busters, of course!
Stress Can Make You a Grinch
We’ve talked in length about how stress actually affects your body, causing a build-up of the stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine and leading to inflammation and even illness. But, what specifically does holiday stress do to you?
I know for me when I get stressed around the holidays, it can make me feel a little Grinch-y. Yes, as in the whole shrunken heart and bad attitude bit.
Stress has a number of effects on our bodies as well as our moods and behavior, especially at potentially high-stress times like the holidays. Stress can cause headache, muscle tension fatigue, anxiety, irritability, sadness, and even overeating, undereating (rarely my problem), angry outbursts, and social withdraw.
So, as you get stressed during the holiday season it makes maintaining a healthy diet and sticking to your social calendar much more difficult. Anyone else have trouble staying away from all of the cookies this time of year? I know I do! Maybe stress is to blame.
My Tips for Handling Holiday Stress
I may have mentioned a time or two that I’m a bit of a perfectionist, a character trait that comes out in full force during the holiday season. Once I made the connection between stress and my health, mood, and behavior, I decided I needed to come up with some go-to strategies for remedying my holiday stress. Here are a few of my favorites.
1. Take a Walk
I know, I know, I’ve already started bundling up against the cold, and I hate being cold as much as the next person. But, there is just something magical about walking around in the calm chill of the night around the holidays. If I’m feeling particularly stressed, I like to don my winter coat and take a short walk outside. Even just 10 minutes is enough to get my blood circulating and a few endorphins pumping to make me feel better.
2. Sit By the Fire
Another one of my holiday favorites is sitting calmly by the fire. This practice is one of those “me time” moments that I just need once in a while. I’ll sit by the fire and do nothing, just enjoy. Just a 5 minute breather is often all I need to gather my thoughts and refocus on the true reason for the season.
I’ve mentioned that lavender essential oil is one of my favorite oils to diffuse when I am feeling anxious at any other time of the year, but I like to switch it up around the holidays. To calm and relax (and get a warm seasonal scent in my home), I like to use a little cinnamon and citrus essential oils. This combo offers a warm seasonal scent that also boosts energy levels and uplifts moods.
4. Keep My Routine
Few things stress me out more than getting out of a routine. So, even though it’s the holidays, I try to stick to a fairly regular routine. To do this, I keep the same practice of organizing my schedule at the beginning of the month and checking it each week to arrange things as needed. This regularity helps keep my stress levels at bay.
Another way that I disconnect and de-stress is by literally doing just that, disconnecting from technology. I don’t do this often, but if I am feeling extremely overwhelmed, turning off my phone and unplugging my computer is a great way to get a few minutes of rest and renewal, which is particularly important at this time of the year.
Regulating stress throughout the year is important but especially during the holiday season. Like I said, when I get stressed out over the holidays I end up feeling a lot like the Grinch. I know with these tips, though, you and I both will be able to be like the Grinch at the end of the movie, you know when his “shrunken heart suddenly grows three sizes larger…” 😉
How do you manage your holiday stress? What are you favorite stress busters for handling the holiday season?
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