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Happy Holidays! This time of year there are many holidays that people are celebrating all around the world, from Christmas to Kwanzaa, to Hanukkah/Chanukah, to Las Posadas, and all the New Year’s celebrations in various countries.
The holidays can be a time of fun, enjoyment, and visiting family. However, the holidays can also be a time of stress- especially if you feel pressured to buy gifts, travel far to visit family, or host the main family event.
This is why it’s so important to make sure you have a stress-reduction plan in place as you prepare for the holiday season.
Below is a list my top 10 ways to reduce stress during the holiday season. You can use every point on the list or just pick 2-3 that you feel you need to work on for your holiday time.
Getting enough sleep is essential to reducing stress. Most people need between 6-8 hours of sleep, but some may need more. Sleep gives our bodies a chance to recover from the day and it gives our brains a break from constantly focused thinking. When we sleep, we also are abstaining from food and drink, which helps give our digestive system a break while detoxing dead cells in our bodies.
Many important functions happen during our sleep, which is the reason why we need to make sure we are getting enough sleep and rest. If you feel like your sleep is suffering during the holidays because you are too busy, be willing to ask for help. Delegate some of the responsibilities to other family members or coworkers. Or, be willing to take some items off your to-do list so that you can enjoy the season.
Having a consistent exercise routine and nutrition plan is important year-round, but it’s especially important during the holiday season. I am an advocate of daily physical activity, as moving the body helps increase hormones that promote feelings of euphoria. It also helps reduce the stress hormone cortisol which causes belly fat when we have high levels of it in our body.
Similarly, proper nutrition can keep us feeling energized and ready to take on the day. A healthy eating plan can promote mental focus, organ function, and can keep our stress levels low.
If you workout 3 times a week, be willing to increase it to 4 or 5 days, even if they are low-intensity workouts. Your stress levels will be higher, so it will be helpful to increase activities that keep those levels low.
If you are traveling for the holidays or not near a gym, remember you can do at-home workouts. YouTube is a great resource for any workout, whether you have access to equipment or not. You can access any type of workout you want on your smartphone or tablet. Their workouts range from high intensity to low intensity. The duration of these workouts can last from long 1 hour workouts to short 30 or 20-minute workouts.
When we are exposed to sunlight, our body naturally absorbs vitamin D. Vitamin D is active in the process of helping us absorb calcium, which promotes bone health, immune function, heart health, as well as proper brain activity. Research has also shown that vitamin D deficiency can play a major role in increased depression, anxiety, issues with sleep, and weight gain/loss.
Getting enough vitamin D during the holidays will help keep your mood in balance. If you are unable to get out into the sun or don’t live in a place that gets a lot of sun, it may be helpful to take vitamin D supplements. If you do decide to use supplements, be sure to get them in the form of vitamin D3 or cholecalciferol, as this is the type that most closely mimics how we absorb it from the sun.
Self-care is the act of taking care of yourself and prioritizing your needs. Self-care can fall into several categories such as physical, mental, emotional, financial, or work-life self-care. Self-care activities can range from expensive like taking a 2-week luxury vacation, to free such as going for a walk in nature.
The type of self-care that you choose should be personal, special, and meaningful to you. You don’t have to follow anyone else’s idea of self-care just find something that helps you feel better.
Here are a couple of ideas that may be helpful:
Interacting and socializing with a positive supportive group of people is pivotal when it comes to keeping your stress levels low. We tend to take in the emotional energy of the people that we surround ourselves with the most on a subconscious level. So, if you are surrounded by angry, depressed, or high-conflict personalities, you may end up feeling higher levels of anxiety or stress.
However, if you are surrounded by calm, kind, and supportive people that share your ideas or values, you will more likely take on these types of feelings. During the holidays, be mindful to intentionally connect with people that bring a smile to your face, such as friends that are positive. Or, if you are a part of a group like a book club, boot camp, or a mom group, surround yourself with those individuals.
The point is to make sure you are interacting with people that lift you and keep you motivated.
Music is so powerful when it comes to mood that there is an intervention for depression called music therapy. Even if you are not clinically depressed, you can benefit from listening to music that makes you feel happy, uplifted, inspired, or strong.
Research shows that music affects the brain by releasing a chemical known as the “happy hormone” dopamine. Not only does the music we hear affect our mood, but we tend to listen to specific types of music based on our mood.
I love singing a happy song in the shower so that I quickly get myself in a high mood before I leave the house. So be intentional about listening to upbeat or happy music to quickly change your mood or even before you start your day.
Mindfulness is all about building a deep awareness around your senses- the sense of feeling thought and physical sensations. Mindfulness helps you to better understand who you are, what you believe, how you feel, how you think, and how you are connected to the world.
Building a mindfulness routine is key to helping you build self-esteem, confidence, and understanding how to connect with your deep needs. Some activities that help with mindfulness are meditation, chanting, journaling, prayer, gardening, and taking a break from electronics.
You can create a simple 15-minute mindfulness routine that you can do every morning before you start your day. This can be a 15-minute meditation or taking 10 minutes to journal your thoughts or daily intentions. The point is to give yourself time to connect with your thoughts and sit in the stillness of your mind.
Be sure to give yourself the time and space for mindfulness during the holiday season.
Volunteering allows you to take your attention off your life and pour your energy towards a positive cause. Whether you spend time at a homeless shelter, with elderly adults, or do some work with animals, the point is to give a few minutes of your day to someone or something in need.
Volunteering creates feelings of internal reward as you are helping others and it helps promote social connection. Even better, you can make volunteering a family event that everyone can enjoy. So pick an organization and be willing to spend some time giving back to others.
Creating boundaries is about setting limits around your personal space. Boundaries help you understand what you are willing to give your energy to and what you don’t want to give your emotional energy to. It helps other people understand what you will and won’t do, how to treat you, your values, and your beliefs. It also helps you to say, “no” to anything or anyone that makes you feel uncomfortable, annoyed, anxious, or fearful.
Boundaries are especially needed during the holidays when many events and people are wanting your attention. Having boundaries will help you preserve your energy for what is important and what you truly enjoy.
As much as the holidays can bring up happy memories for some people, it can bring up intense sadness for others- especially if they have lost family members or had a very difficult childhood. The holidays can bring back unwanted memories or thoughts of past trauma.
Whether you are feeling deep sadness or just a little down, I highly recommend seeking out a certified therapist or counselor.
Online Therapy.com is a great resource because you can access them anytime and anywhere in the world. They have a complete toolbox of various resources that you can use to improve your entire life. These resources include talking one-on-one to a licensed therapist, to activity planners, worksheets, yoga videos, and more.
Plus, they have various payment options for different levels of service that you feel you need. As an affiliate partner, feel free to click my special link to get a discounted rate (should you choose to use their services).
The holidays can be an intense time as you prepare for events, hosting, or travel. As fun as it can be to go to holiday parties, see family members, and eat delicious food, it can also bring on feelings of intense stress.
Don’t allow your holiday to throw you off and cause you to get stressed out. Try one or two or all of these tips during the season to stay healthy, happy, and thankful during this holiday season.
Ready to start the process of gaining more clarity, confidence, and courage? I have created 3 simple steps to help you on your journey.
Don’t let more time pass by, reclaim your life today!
Tiffiny has a B.A. in Psychology, and master’s degree in Public Health Education. She worked in consulting for over 16 years, as well as previously owning a fitness and health business. In her personal life, she used personal development, mindset and health strategies to go from being overworked in a demanding corporate career, emotionally drained in a toxic marriage, physically unhealthy, and depressed to becoming an award-winning figure level bodybuilding athlete and entrepreneur. As a women’s empowerment coach, she works to help women get clear on their goals, build confidence, increase self-esteem, take action on their deep desires and create a life they love