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There are plenty of things to love about the holiday season. But the holiday season isn’t all cupcakes and unicorns for everyone. A seemingly endless stream of parties, entertaining, family drama, and shopping trips can all add to holiday stress.
Things don’t have to be that way though. With some simple tips, you can minimize dreaded holiday stress and savor the holidays.
The holidays aren’t about perfection so you might need to abandon any sky-high expectations. They’re not worth the disappointment.
Instead, try to distill any plans down to what matters most, and focus on one or two special activities. Then, strive to live in the present moment. Enjoy the things that are right in front of you as they unfold.
“You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day – unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour.” –Old Zen Proverb
Self-care is essential, especially when you’re too busy for it. When your schedule is overflowing it’s easy to cut corners on self-care, but making time for the things that refresh and rejuvenate your spirit are essential.
A good self-care routine is an antidote for stress. But if it seems impossible to cut back on a packed day, consider adding a quality hemp oil to your routine, to help ease the effects of stress.
Speaking of self-care, regular exercise is an essential part of stress reduction, especially during the holiday season, helping to maintain a healthy mood.
In fact, according to Michael Otto, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Boston University, “usually within five minutes after moderate exercise you get a mood-enhancement effect.” This means you’ll feel better and be more resilient to stress, even if you only have time to go for a short walk (1).
Furthermore, exercise can also help improve the quality of your sleep, enhance your energy levels, and encourage mental alertness. All of which are great ways to gain the edge you need during your busy holiday season.
Sunlight triggers a release of serotonin in the body—the hormone that’s associated with an elevated mood, tranquility, and focus (2). This means you will be less likely to get overwhelmed with stress.
Plus, sunlight is one of the best ways to get vitamin D, an essential nutrient for fighting off stress effects (3). However, the sun can be in short supply over the holidays and northern latitudes make it next to impossible to make vitamin D. So, opt for a plant-based vitamin D supplement to get your sunshine vitamin.
Stress can decimate your immune system. Holiday stress coupled with lots of people in confined spaces can add up to sniffles and sneezes, which can make you feel even more stressed.
So, protect yourself by building up your immune system. Stronger natural immunity makes it less likely you’ll get sick. Some of the best ways to take care of your immune system include:
One of the best tactics to quickly melt away stress is to stop whatever you’re doing and take several deep breaths. Focus all of your attention on these breaths. Nothing else. Continue until you feel that stress has lost some of its grip over you.
Remarkably, scientists have found that this simple strategy is exceptionally effective. One study, for example, found that deep breathing can drastically improve your mood and reduce stress (4). Deep breathing was also found to lower cortisol, the body’s stress hormone.
Whether you’re aware of it or not, your phone can cause a surprising amount of stress with its constant notifications. Research shows the average Apple phone user checks their phone up to 80 times per day!
According to David Greenfield, Ph.D., founder of the Center for Internet and Technology Addiction, “smartphones put us in an ever-increasing state of hyper-vigilance, where we’re always feeling compelled to check our calls, texts, social media alerts, email, and more. This keeps the adrenals constantly activated and cortisol levels elevated.”
Try setting aside blocks of time each day to turn off your phone, especially at meals and before bed. You may be surprised at how much it has an effect on your peace of mind once you get past the constant urge to check your phone.