The holiday season is in full swing and that means schedules are filling up fast. There is always plenty of fun during the holidays with all the parties, presents, shopping, food, and gatherings with family and friends. But for many people, the holiday season also means an increase in stress. So, as we start the festive season it is important to take time daily to manage holiday stress. Stress compromises the immune system and can leave you more vulnerable to colds, flu, and other viruses. On top of that, eating an excess of sugar can also create additional stress and lower immune system function.
Ways you can manage stress during the holiday season.
Make sleep a priority!
It’s true that you may find yourself busier during the holiday season. And this may cause you to feel as if you need to give up sleep so that you can finish everything on your to-do list. But the truth is that you become less productive when you are sleep-deprived. This means getting less done. This increases stress and ups your risk of being irritable and less patient with others. To make things even worse, sleep-deprived people tend to eat more sugar and highly processed junk food goodies than they do when they get plenty of rest. A lack of sleep increases cravings for these foods. That can impact both your waistline and your immune system function. So, it is important to make sleep a priority so that you can function at your best.
Just say no
There are a lot of holiday parties and events that take place every December. And plenty of ways that you can be involved in holiday festivities. But just because you’ve been invited to something or have been asked to help coordinate a party or event, doesn’t mean you have to. We often have a fear of missing out. Or we feel guilty if we’ve been asked to participate in something, but would prefer to say no. Your physical and mental health is more important than any holiday event. Yes, others may be disappointed if you don’t come to their party or help with their event. But it’s okay to let go of feeling guilty and do what is best for you.
Organize your time
One great way to reduce holiday stress is to organize your time. Write down a list of the things that you need to accomplish each day and prioritize tasks. You cannot do it all so prioritizing tasks can help you discover tasks that can be skipped or even given to someone else to complete. Writing a list of tasks also allows you to keep track of what has been done. And it shows you what needs to be finished. That helps eliminate the panic that accompanies those tasks that you have accidentally forgotten but remember at the last minute.
Eat less sugar
We all know that there are a lot of sugar-filled holiday goodies available from November through the beginning of January. And most people eat more sugar during the holidays than at any other time of the year. Studies have shown that eating a lot of sugar helps to calm psychological stress at the moment. No wonder it is so easy to overindulge during the stress of the holidays! Sugar may feel you better at the moment. But that benefit is short-lived because it then creates hidden stress in the body. Eating too much sugar releases cortisol and adrenaline which can lead to increased stress, depression, and anxiety. Sugar consumption lowers the immune system, creates blood sugar imbalances, and can cause you, in turn, to crave even more sugar. It is an endless cycle. Limiting the amount of sugary food and beverages you consume can ultimately help lower stress levels.
You are only one person, so you don’t have to do everything yourself! It’s okay to ask for help. If your to-do list is long as you prepare for holiday events, enlist the help of your spouse, kids, family members, or friends. Don’t be afraid to ask. The worst they can say is no. More than likely, if asked, they will be more than willing to help and lighten your load. This can take some pressure off you and reduce your stress level.
Make time for some fun!
The holidays should be fun! So be sure to make time to have some holiday fun. Spend some time playing with your kids. Drive around your neighborhood to see all of the lights at night. Make yourself some tea or spiced cider and sit and enjoy some Christmas music by the light of your tree. Have a wrapping paper fight with your kids, family members, or friends. Watch a funny holiday movie, and laugh! Laughter and having fun is one of the easiest and most enjoyable ways to reduce stress this holiday season.
Take a break
If you find that you are feeling stressed out, stop what you’re doing and take a break!! Go and soak in a hot tub, do some breathing exercises, meditate, go out into nature, go for a walk, do some yoga, call a friend. When stress is high, it is more difficult to function well. That is the time to prioritize self-care. Once your batteries have been recharged, then you can get back to work on the things that need to be taken care of. But always take care of yourself first.
Getting exercise daily throughout the holiday season can reduce stress levels. Exercise is one of the best ways to reduce stress! It helps reduce stress chemicals such as adrenaline and cortisol. And exercise produces endorphins, the feel-good chemicals of the brain. While you are out shopping, park farther away to get more steps. And walk the perimeter of the mall or store a few times while shopping. Take an exercise class or walk the dog each day. Get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise five days a week to experience the benefits.
It is important to remember to make self-care and regular stress management a part of your daily holiday routine! This will help you to stay healthier and happier throughout the holiday season.