The holidays are here and with it comes stress. This is the time of year that most mammals slow down or even hibernate, but humans tend to speed up. Preparing kids to go back to school runs into getting ready for Halloween, which is followed by Thanksgiving, then Christmas and Hanukkah. Next comes New Year’s Eve, and once all of festivities have died down, we start running around, trying to accomplish the resolutions we’ve made. It’s really not until after Valentine’s Day that we start to slow down and relax. While it’s impossible to follow the lead of the squirrels and bears and take the season off, it is important to make sure we take care of ourselves by eating healthy food, exercising, properly managing stress, and getting plenty of rest.
10 TIPS FOR HANDLING HOLIDAY STRESS
Have a Plan – Do as Santa does and make a list. Write down everything that you’d like to accomplish by the end of the year. Prioritize what you want to do and get rid anything you don’t really want to participate in. Organize your schedule by carefully and then stick with your plan. Make sure you give yourself enough time each day to relax, unwind, exercise, and sleep.
Get Enough Sleep – Even though there’s less daylight, many people tend to sleep less during the cold months. Sleep is essential for health and wellbeing. While we sleep, our bodies are hard at work, detoxifying, repairing and rebuilding. When we don’t get enough sleep, we’re denying our bodies the time it needs for these functions and we’re compromising our immune systems. Studies have shown that sleep deprivation causes increased levels in cortisol in the body, which means we’re all walking around feeling stressed out.
Don’t be Afraid to Say No – It’s common to take on too much at once, especially at this time of year. A lot of people, especially women, have a fear of letting others down, and end up juggling far too many projects and activities, and self care tends to get pushed to the back burner. Saying no isn’t always easy, but it gets more natural with practice. You’ll be able to enjoy the holidays more if you aren’t stressed from taking on too much at once.
Don’t try to Be Perfect – The seasonal stress we feel is often self-imposed as we strive for perfection by trying to give others what they want, draining us of the energy we require to make it through the season. Give yourself permission to scale back on shopping, baking, sending out cards, and decorating.
Exercise – Regular aerobic exercise lowers levels of stress hormones. For many people, exercise can help relieve depression as effectively as antidepressant medication. Regular exercise will keep your energy up during busy days.
Set Aside Some “Me Time” – Self care is just as important as eating healthily, as we need to nourish our souls just as much as we nourish our bodies. Make sure you make time for yourself and the things you love.
Watch What You Eat – Sweets and fatty foods tend to be everywhere during the holidays, and many people overeat “because it’s there.” Certain foods, such as sugar and fat can adversely affect mood. They can also zap your energy, which can make you feel more stressed and run down.
Use Essential Oils – Essential oils are excellent for alleviating stress and improving mood. Citrus oils can boost feelings of well-being and alleviate stress, while lavender can calm and relax an anxious mind. Place oils in a diffuser or even wear them as perfume.
Remember What’s Important – It’s easy to get caught up in the commercialization of the season. If you find it happening to you, stop and think about what you really hope to get out of the holidays. Spending time with family and friends is far more important that expensive store-bought gifts and elaborately planned meals.
Have Fun – Tis the season to be jolly, and laughter is good for the soul, so don’t forget to have fun!
How to do you handle stress during the holidays?
Reprinted with permission from Dianne’s Vegan Kitchen.