The hustle and bustle of shopping, decorating, baking, and attending parties can make the holidays a time of panic and stress rather than a time of peace and joy. Stress can have very negative effects on your health. However, with some simple changes, you can cut the stress and make this time of year the magical time it should be.
1. Prioritize your To Do List.
Having a good idea of what needs to be done can go a long way in reducing stress during the holidays. Once your list is complete, prioritize. Focus first on the most important things. For those less important things, decide how important they are and whether you can do without them.
2. Get some help.
No one ever said you must do it all by yourself. Do what you enjoy, and then get help for the rest. If baking is not your thing, find a good bakery to take on that task. If you dread the task of wrapping gifts, commission a friend or family member to help you out for some extra holiday cash. Get your kids involved as much as possible. It builds memories that they will have for the rest of their lives.
3. Burn off stress with exercise.
When the stress of the holidays gets to you, don’t turn to the fudge. Instead, release that stress with some exercise. Whether it’s jogging, stair climbing, or attending a workout class, choose something you enjoy. Research shows that exercise can improve your mood for up to 12 hours.
4. Give to those less fortunate.
Buy a gift for someone less fortunate, volunteer for a charitable organization, or go visit the elderly. You will find that you can get so much pleasure out of giving to others and brightening their day.
5. Set a holiday budget and stick to it.
No one wants to spend the following year paying off Christmas. That will just add un-due stress to next year. If the budget is tight, make hand-made gifts or consider drawing names for a gift exchange rather than buying gifts for everyone.
6. Get some vitamin D.
Studies show that low vitamin D levels are linked to anxiety and depression. With cooler temperatures and less sunlight during the winter months, it is important to make sure you are getting enough vitamin D. Eat vitamin-D rich foods such as salmon, egg-yolks, or fortified milk. If you do not get enough vitamin D through your diet, you can take supplements to make up for what you are missing.
7. Focus on being grateful.
Take the time to write down the things for which you are grateful. Keep a journal or gratitude jar in which you write about the good things in each day. When you focus on these things, your mood will be boosted, and you will feel less stressed.
8. Resist trying to be perfect.
Don’t obsess over the small things. It really won’t matter if the cookies don’t look perfect or the tree isn’t arranged with precise ornament placement. Let those things go and enjoy spending time with your family. That is what really matters.
9. Turn up the music.
Research shows that hearing music you love can relax blood vessels and increase blood flow. This is good for your heart, and it calms you down. So, crank up the tunes and enjoy yourself!
10. Treat yourself.
Don’t be so focused on everyone else that you forget about yourself during the holidays. Take the time to have lunch with a friend or enjoy a long bubble bath. It will do wonders on your mood.