5 Tips to Managing Stress During The Holidays
The holidays can be a stressful time of year, and this year has been a particularly stressful one. Not many of us are able to spend the holidays with loved ones and friends as we have in the past, and that can add to feelings of loneliness and anxiety. Anxiety and stress are the biggest contributing factors to illness and bad health, especially for women in menopause.
Stress hormones impact your body’s immune system on many levels. Chronic stress can lead to a buildup of toxins in your body from your brain to your skin. Stress can worsen sleep deprivation, increase blood pressure, and even impact the rate of hair loss.
If stress can impact all of these processes in your body, then what’s the solution? How can you find ways to manage and relieve stress, especially during one of the most stressful times of the year?
Nothing is more relaxing than doing an activity that you enjoy. Giving yourself time to escape from work can be extremely therapeutic. It gives you time to focus your attention on something else, something that your brain perceives as simple and enjoyable. So whether you’re an avid baker, a painter, or a yoga enthusiast, finding a hobby that you can do during the holidays can help lower stress. Make sure to engage in your hobbies frequently. You don’t have to do it every day, sometimes our lives don’t allow for that. However, if you can engage in your hobbies once or twice a week, you’ll be surprised at how much better you feel in the long-run.
As cheesy as it sounds, holiday music can be a great form of stress relief. Now, we’re not suggesting that you listen to “Jingle Bells” or “White Christmas” 100 times a day, but listening to a nostalgic song every once in a while can cause your brain to release dopamine and serotonin. Dopamine and serotonin are often referred to as “happiness chemicals.” These neurotransmitters help lower levels of stress hormones, help your muscles relax, and lower your blood pressure. When all of these processes occur, stress hormone levels are lowered. So if you’re feeling tightly wound, put on a good Christmas song.
Letting Go of Perfection
Every year it seems like we’re trying to somehow top the festivities of the year before. Now, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to spend the holiday season in a well-decorated and clean home. However, when preparing for the holidays starts to eat into time that would be better spent with family or time spent relaxing, it can be more stressful than enjoyable. Stressing over the color palette of the room or the spacing of the decorations is not time well spent. It’s just a another thing to channel your anxiety into. Letting go of the need for things to be perfect is a good first step toward finding other ways to celebrate and enjoy the holiday season. Remember, just because something isn’t perfect, that doesn’t mean it’s any less enjoyable or special.
Get Up and Move
One of the quickest ways to relieve stress and get a boost of added health benefits is to exercise. During exercise, our body released endorphins, which are like the body’s natural pain killers. When endorphins are high, they bind onto receptors in the brain that then release dopamine more effectively. The famous, “runner’s high” is that exact process. Exercising on a regular basis can actually boost and stabilize your mood. So even though the holiday season is packed with delicious treats, get up and get some exercise. You don’t have to exercise every day but getting up to 20 minutes of some kind of physical activity at least four times a week can help keep you healthy and lower stress.
Have a Regular Sleep Schedule
Stress and sleep deprivation have a close relationship. Chronic stress can lead to chronic sleep deprivation and chronic sleep deprivation can cause stress levels to increase. They feed into each other, which can create a vicious cycle of extreme stress and little sleep, both of which can have detrimental health effects down the road. Maintaining a regular sleep schedule can do a lot to help lower stress and maintain your immune system. Sleep helps relax your muscles, reduce blood pressure, and maintain cognitive functions. Concentration and memory are greatly improved after a good night’s sleep. Get into a regular sleep schedule during the holidays. Decide what time to go to bed, set an alarm for the morning, invest in some quality blankets and pillows, and make your environment cozy.
Say Goodbye to Stress
The holidays don’t have to be a stressful time. Spending what time you can with what family you should be paramount, especially in times like these. We hope you stay safe, stay healthy, and have a happy holiday season!