Turn Holiday Stress into Holiday Happiness

Turn Holiday Stress into Holiday Happiness

The Holidays will be here before we know it. While it is often called the most wonderful time of the year, for many people it’s a season of stress. If you’re like me, the extra demands on our time and resources during this season can really start to add up.

I just read a report that holiday stress tends to impact women more than men; no surprise there, right? Let’s face it, it’s often us ladies who take charge of the holiday celebrations, activities, meals, baking and decorating, so it’s no surprise that women are also more likely than men to report an increase in stress during the holiday season. In addition, women have a harder time relaxing during the holidays and are more likely to fall into bad habits to manage their stress …such as comfort eating. Bring on the peppermint mocha and Christmas cookies!

But, it is also possible to have a stress-free, joy-filled holiday season; it just takes a bit of awareness and a willingness to make some minor changes. To ensure that you wake up on January 1 feeling rested and relaxed, take a look at these ideas for having a low-stress holiday season.

  • During holiday meals, let food be the backdrop for gatherings and conversation. Be sure to continue to focus on eating properly, including those fruits and veggies. Eat mindfully, be realistic and take good care of yourself.
  • Remember to focus on the meaning of the holidays and the interactions with those around you rather than placing unrealistic expectations on yourself. Demanding perfection of yourself or others can lead to the holiday stress and overeating habits that we want to avoid.
  • Try to find time to relax and enjoy time with family and friends rather than feeling consumed with finding the perfect gift, baking the perfect pie or wearing the perfect outfit. Keep reasonable expectations.
  • Try not to worry about the things you can’t control–such as the weather or what others might say or do–and, instead, focus on what you can do to make the best of the season. By focusing on the positive and remaining flexible, you can prevent negative feelings from surfacing and continue to enjoy the season.
  • Don’t forget that exercise is one of the best ways to release the stress. When you move your body, the built-up stress can escape. And that’s good! So get to the gym or the yoga studio. Hop on that stationary bike or put on your snowshoes and get outside. But whatever you do, move your body on a regular basis to get those endorphins flowing. Endorphins are the “feel-good hormones” and are natural chemicals released by the brain that improve your mood, relieve pain, reduce stress and produce an overall feeling of well-being. They also help you sleep better. The easiest way to get your body to release endorphins is to exercise. Even moderate exercise eases tension and improves mental and physical health. Just move!

And most importantly, remember that some of the best times during the holidays are the opportunities to connect—or reconnect—with friends and family. When we take the focus off of trying to make the season “perfect” and remember that the holidays are a time of celebration and togetherness, it can make all the difference for you and your family.

Wishing you a happy, healthy holiday season,

Katherine

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