Many of us equate the start of the holiday season with more stress in our daily lives. Lines are longer, the energy is hectic, and the end of the year deadlines and family obligations are enough to make us want to run for the hills. Or maybe just escape to Hawaii, where we can lounge in a hammock, sipping green juice all day while reading inspirational books ;)
For those of us that cannot jet off to a sunny island getaway we have to make choices on how to deal with the stress. We can let the stress get the best of us and complain about how hard everything is, or we take action and take improve our stress response. We can move towards sickness or wellness—the choice is ours.
I get how challenging this time of year is, trust me. I too find it maddening to be stuck in traffic and have to practice a lot of extra self-care and love around my family which can add more stress to my life. I want to move through the holidays as gracefully and with as much love and compassion as possible. Since that is my main goal I follow some simple guidelines in order to support myself along the way.
Here are my top six tips for coping with holiday stress:
1. Warm tea and a good book. Super simple and hits the spot every time. Drinking tea and reading slow down our heart rate which helps us relax. These activities can also increase endorphins, natural stress fighting hormones.
2. Take a social media break. Gasp. I know. I just took a 7 week Instagram break this fall and it was life changing. Even just a day or two here and there is so good for us. Make it a point to spend some in person face-to-face time with friends and loved ones. This can really help to decrease stress in our lives and is a vital part of a healthy life.
3. Feel it all. If you have been following my journal or worked with me you know how much I encourage feeling your feelings. It can be easy this time of year to stuff our feelings with spending money and sugary foods. We can also feel like there isn’t enough time to express ourselves because everyone around us is so busy. In order to balance our stress levels we need to talk to each other about how we feel. Even just a short phone call with a friend can help us gain perspective and not feel alone in our discomfort. The holidays can be super challenging and having feelings about that is totally normal. Don’t let them get the best of you by hiding out.
4. Eat your greens! I had to go there. With all the homemade holiday goodies around at dinners and parties it is important that we go out of our way to eat plenty of dark leafy greens like collards and kale. This time of year there it can be easy to slip into emotional eating and get carried away consuming foods with little nutritional value. Our bodies need the valuable phytonutrients in greens to keep our immune system strong. Do your body a favor and load up on these nutrient powerhouses.
5. Slow down + breathe. I talk about this all the time with my clients. With all of the chaos and excitement in the air we can easily forget to pause and take a breath. Slowing down is some of the most powerful medicine out there. When we can take a few moments to ourselves it is easier to make healthy choices for ourselves. Practice sitting in silence a few minutes each morning. When you notice you are stressed out slow down and practice a few long exhales. Each time we consciously breathe and move slower it helps bring us back to the present, back home to ourselves.
6. Move + rest. These two are equally important. Going for a brisk walk or doing some living room yoga are excellent ways to boost our happy brain chemicals and release stress. There is so much going on this time of year, get creative with fitting fun movement activities into your life. And lastly rest. This is crucial. Inadequate rest only makes us less efficient—not what we need during this time. Try to get 7 to 10 hours of sleep per night to help keep your stress levels to a minimum and immune system happy.