8 Ways to Combat Holiday Stress

playing in the snow

We’re deep into the holiday season, and we’re willing to bet some of you are feeling the heat. Maybe that heat only comes from the fireplace for some, but for many the holidays are also a time for plenty of added stress, with the added duties of travel, cooking large meals, holiday shopping (and holiday crowds!), and maybe even having to see a cousin you haven’t gotten along with since she insulted your figgy pudding back in 2003.

But if you’re getting bogged down instead of enjoying the holidays, here are simple things you can do to alleviate some of the stress:

  1. Get some sun: This may be easier said than done for those of us in the middle of winter, but a few hours of sunlight can help boost serotonin levels and gives you a healthy dose of vitamin D. Serotonin helps you feel happier, so this is one reason you may feel gloomier in the winter.
  2. Exercise: It’s probably obvious we’d go here. But exercising releases endorphins, which help your body naturally fight off stress. Exercising on a regular basis and keeping up with it can even help improve self-esteem!
  3. Go for a walk: Walking has a lot of stress-fighting benefits! It usually takes you outdoors, which helps you get sunlight, and being around nature has also been shown to help reduce stress. Walking is also, of course, a form of exercise!
  4. Take some “me” time: It can be easy when you’re busy to be so focused on checking off all the items on your to-do list that you forget to take care of yourself. Even with a busy schedule, it’s important to take some time for yourself. Block off a half hour each day to read a book, sit with a cup of tea, or even watch your favorite TV show.
  5. Treat yourself to chocolate: Believe it or not, chocolate has shown hints of helping reduce stress as well! The key, of course, is moderation: let yourself have an ounce of dark chocolate a day or so, rather than the king-sized candy bar from the grocery check-out line, to feel the effects.
  6. Get enough sleep: This one can be tricky, because it’s hard to get quality sleep in when you’re stressed. But not getting enough sleep can also cause more stress! Making a conscious effort to sleep better is a good first-step.
  7. Bake a pie: Or light a pie-scented candle, if the thought of more baking doesn’t sound like a stress-reliever to you. Studies show that the scents we associate with the holidays, like pie, help reduce stress levels.
  8. Try yoga: As well as being yet another form of exercise, yoga especially can help fight stress. If you don’t have time for a full class, try these 5-minute yoga moves at your desk right now!

What’s your favorite way to enjoy the calm of the holidays?

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