4 Tips for Getting a Handle on Holiday Stress
By Amber Lowry
The holiday season is often synonymous with stress. Gift-giving, festive food prep, squeezing in family get-togethers, and the inevitable “What the heck do I wear to the New Year’s party?!” scenario can be enough to drive anyone crazy. Use the tips below to help tackle stress that’s bound to build throughout the holiday season.
Adult coloring is more than just a hipster hobby. Coloring can promote relaxation by helping you get outside your own head for a few moments. Research has shown that art therapy can aid in the alleviation of both physical and mental stress, and though coloring might not be explicitly classified as “art therapy,” taking time to be creative for no purpose other than to express yourself might hold some therapeutic benefits. Not to mention it’s a cheaper, healthier alternative to more typical grownup ways to unwind.
2. Remember the reason for the season
It’s easy to get caught up in the materialistic experience of the holidays, but this can lead to an unhealthy fixation on what matters least. Remembering the true reason for the season can help keep perspective on what and why you’re celebrating in the first place, lessening some of the stress material obligations can create. You can do this by reading up on relevant holy texts or inspiring stories about sacrifice and generosity. Taking the time to engage in spiritual or religious traditions with loved ones can encourage a more centered attitude and a heightened ability to deal with all the seasonal chaos.
Breathing is one of the most underrated ways to deal with stress. Yes, we all breathe to live, but focusing on your breathing can be deeply therapeutic for both your mind and body. A 2011 study done involving yoga breathing techniques found that concentrated breathing exercises are not only a fast track to stress reduction, but to cardiovascular improvement as well. This is due to a switch in activation from the sympathetic nervous system to the parasympathetic nervous system in the body. While neither is inherently bad, over-activating your sympathetic nervous system poses too much of a strain on your heart and stress hormones, which makes deliberately stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system vital for maintaining balance. There are countless YouTube videos and apps that can guide you through meditation or yoga inspired breathing practices, so take a deep breath and get to it!
4. Say “no”
Saying no to tasks that exceed your time or energy constraints is crucial when tackling holiday responsibilities. Easier said than done right? We all like to think we can accomplish just about anything in our jam-packed schedules, but knowing your personal limits and honoring them can help you avoid holiday-induced stress. Resisting pressure to take on a load larger than you can handle can take more strength than giving into every request, but ultimately, it’s important to remember that you can’t show up for anyone until you show up for yourself. Sharing the weight with family and friends, or simply refusing the weight all together, might be the best gift you could give yourself and everyone else around you.