6 Ways to Stress Less this Holiday Season
Is the holiday season stressing you out? Does the thought of holiday parties and your crazy aunt Mary make you want to curl up in a ball and pull the covers over your head? Perhaps it’s the shorter days and lack of sunlight that draws you into a funk every time the season rolls around. Whatever it is, you are not alone. Let’s take a look at a few simply ways you and your family can stress less over the holidays!
1. Create Your Own Sunlight
Many of us suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder during the winter holiday season from the lack of sunlight and vitamin D. If this is the case, you’ll want to create your own source of sunlight. Insufficient sunlight on your skin is cause for a host of health problems – stress and depression being two of the biggies. The only real cure for this is to expose your skin to sunlight. Whenever a sunny day strikes, get outside – even if it’s only for five or ten minutes. Let the sun’s radiant goodness soak blissfully into your skin. The runner-up solution is a high-intensity full spectrum light box which you can purchase online or in a number of stores. Make sure the light box has at least 10,000 LUX for maximum benefit. Use it every morning, allowing it to become part of your morning ritual.
2. Eat a Nutrient-Dense Diet
The sun gives your body an array of nutrients, and when this bright bulb of energy disappears, it’s good to supplement with good, clean food that has a positive effect on your emotions. High quality proteins, fiber-rich foods, and foods with high amounts of bioflavonoids are essential at this time of year for the type of repair and rebuilding that’s essential during the season. Buckwheat is an excellent choice for this. Instead of oatmeal, make a buckwheat porridge for breakfast with raw buckwheat groats you purchase in the bulk section of your health food store. Add ground cardamom, cinnamon, a little stevia powder and a handful of berries for a good, clean nutrient-dense winter breakfast. Sea vegetables, super foods, and organic veggies that fill one-pot soups and stews are all excellent ways to ensure you boost your mood and vitality during the season. Oily fish such salmon, mackerel and sardines help keep your brain happy. When you find yourself at a holiday celebration, indulge a little. Indulgence is good from time to time, but do keep in mind that alcohol is a stress-inducing depressant, so drink in moderation and keep yourself well-hydrated.
3. Ritual and Routine
This time of year means sleeping a bit longer because your body needs to restore and rejuvenate itself during the winter. We all know how much more stressed we feel after a bad night of sleep. Do your best to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. For those nights when you do attend holiday parties that keep you up past the normal bedtime hour, don’t sleep in. It’s better to simply be tired the following day and get right back to the normal routine ASAP, instead of setting those bio-rhythms off-kilter. We need more ritual and routine during this time of year to create stability for ourselves during a time when we may be more affected by the instability of others.
4. Create Your Own Good Stress
Because we perceive stress in our brains, we can focus our minds on big projects and positive stressors which can make those holiday stressors pale in comparison. Has that huge family gathering got your stomach turning and churning? Focus your efforts on the lovely blanket you’re knitting for the new baby in the family or perhaps there’s a yoga pose you really want to master this season. Put your attention on these creative projects and set a goal. Welcome these exciting stressors into your life in order to dwarf the unexpected ones when they do arise.
5. Embrace the Heightened Social Interaction
The holidays are a time of connection, allowing the social bonding hormone of oxytocin to flow freely. Respect this time of the year and look at it as a way to boost your oxytocin hormone. Don’t forget to hug those around you. The physiological benefits of human touch are profound and healing happens when we hug each other. Choose someone you feel comfortable hugging and simply hug away. Because hugs actually slow the release of the stress hormone cortisol, you won’t need to reach for that 3rd, 4th, or 5th glass of wine to relax!
6. Do Lots of Yoga and Meditation
This is the time when your yoga and meditation practice get to shine. Exercise and meditation are the best natural stress-relievers and antidepressants available. When moving through your yoga practice, pay close attention to what feels good for your body at this time. This is a time to move inward, and your yoga and meditation practice will support this passage to a great degree. The less stressed you are, the less stressed your loved ones will be, so let those good vibrations embrace all those around you, and everyone will have a more relaxed holiday season.
We hope these practices help you not only stress less this holiday season, but enjoy it with a sense of spontaneity and love.