“Keep calm and carry on” – easier said than done during the stressful holiday season. Use these tips to help keep your cool this year.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Or, so the song goes. But you’ve got a thousand batches of cookies to bake, endless parties to attend, a gift list a mile long, and a parade of relatives filling your guest room. What’s so wonderful about that? Let’s be honest, as much fun as the holiday season is, it’s also a time widely known for its stress. Which is exactly why it’s so important to maintain your healthy lifestyle and practice stress management techniques to keep things running smoothly.

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Our Top 10 Stress Management Techniques To Make it Through the Holidays

  1. Rely on Your Old Standbys: We have family traditions and go-to recipes for a reason – they work! A huge family holiday dinner is no time to attempt that complicated new recipe you’ve been thinking about. Stick to the classics that everyone loves and expects, (and that you can make in your sleep!). While it’s fun to add your own creative touch to the holidays, don’t go overboard and get overwhelmed with too many new projects.
  2. Know Your Limits: This is a huge stress management tip any time of year, but especially during the holiday season, when we tend to spread ourselves thinner than ever! You do not have to contribute to every single cookie swap or host every get-together. This also applies to your holiday budget – set limits and stick to them. After all, worrying about money is the number one cause of stress in America, with 64% of us naming finances as a “significant source” of stress.
  3. Breakfast First, Caffeine Later: When you’ve got a massive list of holiday errands to tackle, it may be tempting to just grab a cup of coffee and get to work. But loading up on caffeine on an empty stomach will lead to blood sugar spikes, which cause irritability and poor focus. So even if you’re rushed, grab a quick breakfast before hitting Starbucks!
  4. iBlog 12-16 Feature.jpgAsk For Help: Why do we think we have to do everything ourselves? One of the best ways to fight holiday stress is simply to delegate! Turn family dinner into a potluck so you’re not stuck in the kitchen preparing 20 dishes solo. Ask a friend to bring over a bottle of wine and knock out all the cookies you’ll both need for school parties and office exchanges.
  5. Step Away From the Cigarettes: If you’re trying to quit smoking, the holidays can be particularly challenging. Even though we know smoking is bad for us, we may still consider it a stress relief technique. It’s not! The nicotine found in cigarettes reaches our brain in a mere 8 seconds, releasing dopamine. But it’s all an illusion. While the dopamine gives a fleeting sense of calm, the cigarette actually puts the entire body into a state of stress. Blood pressure and heart rate increase, muscles tense – and your stress is still there. Check out this list of ways to get through the holidays smoke free!
  6. Get Outside: Any list of stress management tips worth its weight will recommend you get some sun. This tip remains a favorite for good reason – sunlight stimulates the production of mood-boosting serotonin. Take a brief, brisk walk after lunch to catch the sun at its height.
  7. Snuggle Your Furry Friends: The cutest way to relieve stress? Spend some time snuggling your pet. Studies have shown positive correlations between time spent with animals and levels of happiness. Pets not an option for your family? Consider volunteering at a local shelter, walking dogs, and cuddling kittens!
  8. Get Your Workout On: Your routine jog or yoga class may be the first thing to get cut during the busy holiday season, but it shouldn’t be! The post-workout endorphin rush can boost your mood for 12 hours! Any form of exercise, be it an intense spin class or a meditative yoga session, can help relax you, improve your sleep, and relieve symptoms of minor depression and anxiety.
  9. Look Out For Number One: It’s ok to take a little “Me Time” to decompress. In fact, one of the best ways to relieve stress is simply to take a step back for a minute. Read a book, catch up on a favorite TV show –  just take some time to yourself, and get back to your to-do list later.
  10. Enjoy the Season: Our number one way to fight holiday stress? Remember the joys of the season – time with loved ones, delicious meals, festive decorations – and enjoy it! All too often we are preoccupied with staging the perfect holiday that the season just flies right by in a hazy ball of stress. Make it a point to slow down and savor the holidays like you did when you were a kid, because before you know it, they’ll be over! 

We hope these stress management techniques help you glide through this busy time of year, allowing you to focus on what’s really important. For more tips on having a happy, healthy, holiday season, check out our blog!

(P.S. Looking to get a jump start on your new year’s resolutions? We can help!)