It’s the holiday season and, for sure, you’ll soon find yourself going about your days like a headless chicken because of the sheer number of things you need to accomplish.
Holiday stress is just a short-term thing; after that, you can go about your usual routine, which is more comfortable and convenient. However, it’s important that you still make the effort to manage your stress because Jay Winner, MD, author of “Take the Stress out of Your Life,” says: “If you know how to manage it, stress can give you the extra energy you need to succeed and get through difficult situations.”
If you want to make the holidays optimally joyful despite all the things that need to get done, stress management is indeed a must. To further help you with this objective, here are seven tips for stress reduction that you can easily apply during this crazy holiday season.
Pause and Breathe
Stop what you’re doing every once in a while and then take deep breaths—5 seconds in and out. This will slow down your heart rate and keep those stress hormones at bay.
Create Small Steps to the Goal
Avoid doing everything in one big chunk; rather, divide your tasks into smaller, more manageable steps. Scheduling your tasks and making sure that you have time to rest and collect yourself in between tasks will not only keep you calm but also make you more productive.
Keep a Stress Diary
Studies show that doing some expressive writing when that harried feeling won’t go away helps a lot. After a week of documenting your stressful experiences, study your notes and identify patterns that you need to correct. For example, if you had frequent outbursts because your children kept on whining about not having anything to do or eat while you were busy cooking, you can download fun movies for them to watch, prepare snacks for them beforehand, and teach them what to do so as not to disturb you from what you’re doing.
Taking time for physical fitness, particularly before the start of your day, will pump happy hormones or endorphins throughout your body—as well as norepinephrine, a hormone that will help you manage anxiety.
Treat Yourself to Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate has flavonoids which have relaxing properties, as well as phenethylamine, a chemical that boosts mood. If the holiday preps are getting you down and tired, grab some dark chocolate to fight stress.
Put Everything in Perspective
If all the holiday chores and tasks are depleting you of happiness, pause and think about the joy you’re giving to others by exerting the effort to cook, buy fun presents, decorate the house, and have friends over. Look at the bigger picture, and resentment (which can compound stress) will be outworked by the realisation that you did everything out of love.
A study by the American Journal of the Medical Sciences reveals that just the mere anticipation of laughter can already reduce the presence of stress hormones by nearly half. Therefore, have fun and exchange jokes with your family while you’re slaving away in the kitchen; you’ll feel less stressed when you inject fun into everything that you’re doing.