We all know the holidays are right around the corner - but wait! Don’t stress! If there is anything to learn from the last year and a half, it’s to focus on the important stuff. This is your checklist to make sure you stay relaxed, de-stressed, and enjoy this season. One step at a time!
CHILL OUT: Ways to reduce the stress and bring in the “chill” this season
Do less, enjoy more. Last year, many of us were away from our loved ones for the holidays. Parties were cancelled, some traditions were lost, but it gave us plenty of time to reassess. What did you miss the most? And on the flip side, what can you do without? Sometimes running around trying to create the perfect holiday for everyone leaves you feeling joy-LESS, all in the name of tradition! So, reboot your holiday this year. Make your goal to come out of the holiday season with lots of energy to take on the new year and kiss that holiday stress goodbye!
- Avoid stressful situations and don’t feel bad for taking shortcuts! Swap out the professional family photoshoot for a casual shot around the tree. And don’t feel bad for skipping out on this year’s homemade gingerbread house, decorate some pre-made, store-bought cookies instead. Less stress, more fun!
- Money! A survey of 2,000 Americans conducted by Yelp with OnePoll found that 28% of respondents said they’ve gone into debt during the holiday season. Yikes! Chances are, the majority of people in your circle are stressed about money this time of year. Be honest with each other and make a plan to give smaller, more meaningful gifts. Plan activities together instead of focusing on things.
Check in with your stressors. Look back at past holiday seasons. What irked you? “Looking back and doing an inventory about things that were challenging or stressful during last holiday season can be helpful,” says Elizabeth Block, MD, a psychiatrist at Saint Joseph Mercy Health System in Chelsea, Michigan. “Once you identify the stressors you’ve experienced before, you can plan for them in case they crop up again.”
- Does your Uncle want to talk politics? Plan some activities: like making homemade tree ornaments or a simple card game like Five Crowns to keep everyone focused on something else and helps keep the day drama-free.
- Another cocktail party? Sometimes the holidays mean lots of parties and not necessarily with the people you want to socialize with. Step back and reevaluate. Are you leaving the group feeling happy and energized or drained? Spend time with people that fill your cup!
Newsflash: nobody’s perfect! Nobody is Martha Stewart except Martha. You don’t have to set the perfect table or have the perfect tree - people will be MORE relaxed at your home if you aren’t perfect! Clean and comfy is the key to entertaining. Put on the holiday music, light the candles, pour the wine, and fill their bellies with good food!
- Since we are talking about food…a potluck is the way to go. If someone asks to bring something, say yes! Have a plan in advance. Give them options: “Some wine or an app would be great, thanks!”
- SAY NO. "We go overboard to please others during the holidays: shopping, cooking, sending cards, and attending every event," says George Pratt, PhD, a psychologist at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla in California. "Instead, take care of yourself by saying no at least once—and maybe more."
HOW TO LOOSEN UP this holiday season!
The best physical stress relievers. “The most wonderful time of the year” sometimes brings the most stress physically. Did you know that tension-type headaches and migraine headaches are associated with chronic muscle tension in the area of the shoulders, neck, and head? And musculoskeletal pain in the lower back and upper extremities has also been linked to stress.
- Try a massage gun! These amazing devices literally pound out the stress, releasing tension and increasing blood and lymphatic circulation, allowing more oxygen and nutrients into the muscles. Look for a 100% deep tissue massager with different attachment heads for different kinds of massage. Make sure your massage gun has multiple speeds and can apply between 2000 – 3000 percussions per minute for your customized comfort.
- Yoga or weightlifting isn’t your thing? Try to get out for a walk around the block a few times a week. Get yourself away from the screen and just enjoy the beauty of nature and fresh air. Just a mellow walk around the block promotes the release of brain chemicals called endorphins that stimulate relaxation and change your mood.
Bring on the LAUGHS! Did you know that children laugh 150 times a day on average, and adults laugh on average only six times a day? Who is more fun? A good sense of humor is vital to keeping yourself stress-free. A five-year study out of Norway confirmed that having a good sense of humor has physical health benefits. Finding the humor in things throughout the day, and not taking everything so seriously will mean you will enjoy the season a lot more, I promise you that!
- Turn on a funny TV show when stress levels are soaring: Mayo Clinic Research has found both short and long-term benefits- Laughter can increase oxygen to the heart, lungs, and muscles, increase the endorphins that are released by your brain, improve your mood and reduce physical pain.
- Call up your funniest friends. Laughter can improve your immune system. Negative thoughts can lead to chemical reactions that can affect your body; positive thoughts can release neuropeptides that help fight stress.
Take these tips, for a stress-free holiday! Isn’t that what we want to be this holiday season? De-stressed, happy, and enjoying the company of others. Put yourself on the top of your list, and don’t forget to CHILL OUT and LOOSEN UP!