Gift shopping – check. Decorating, cooking, cleaning – triple check. Picking up relatives from the airport – wait, what time are they getting here?!
If this sounds anything like your holiday checklist, you might be feeling more frantic than festive! Making too many plans and rushing around can leave you feeling tired and irritable – exactly what you want to avoid during one of the most exciting times of the year. To keep up the holiday cheer, make time for small doses of relaxation and self-care to help create a more stress-free holiday season. Use these 10 tips for managing stress during the holidays so you can enjoy every moment of the celebrations.
#1. Take a power nap
Feeling overwhelmed? Take a break from all the excitement with a quick snooze — according to the National Sleep Foundation, short naps can reduce tension.1 Aim to get 10 to 15 minutes of shut-eye between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., when your body’s blood sugar begins to dip. Naps may also help improve your mood and alertness – great news for extra-busy days.2
#2. Sip some tea
Various studies have shown that drinking tea, specifically black and green teas, may reduce your stress levels.3 These teas contain theanine, an amino acid that may lessen anxiety and encourage you to feel calm.4 Plan a daily “tea time” when you sit down for a break, brew a cup and unwind. For a little holiday flair, try peppermint or spiced chai.
#3. Get a breath of fresh air
Getting outside and connecting with nature may help decrease your levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, and lower your heart rate.5 Make this part of your everyday schedule by planning a short walk in the mornings, during your lunch breaks or in the evenings. It’s a great way to get moving without breaking a sweat!
#4. Free up your schedule
The holidays are full of obligations and invites, but it’s OK to say no. If you’re feeling overcommitted, check out your potential plans for the month and choose one event you’d like to skip. Giving yourself the time to make your own plans or just staying at home and relaxing are helpful ways to cope with holiday stress.
#5. Treat yourself
The holidays might be a season of giving, but that doesn’t mean you should give up your time for self-care. Take 10 minutes today to do something for you. There are lots of different ways to practice self-care – try choosing something that you enjoy and helps you to relax. Perhaps it’s as simple as reading a book, taking a walk, or simply savoring some peace and quiet.
#6. Have a good laugh
Laughter might be the best medicine during the holidays! Letting loose and laughing could help you to de-stress6 and may even keep your heart healthy, according to research.7 Infuse a little humor into the festivities by playing a fun game with your kids, watching a rom-com or getting tickets to a comedy show.
#7. Go offline
Ever feel left out after seeing photos of your friends having a great time during the holidays? Social media envy is a real thing! But a quick break from the internet may help — one study found that active social media users who took a five-day break from Facebook had lower levels of cortisol in their bodies.8
If you find yourself spending too much time on social media, sign off or disable your notifications, whether it’s for a couple of hours or a few days. When you unplug, you may even find yourself spending more time engaging with your loved ones!
#8. Turn up the holiday tunes
It’s more than just an enjoyable pastime – listening to music may help reduce your stress levels.9 It’s the perfect way to relax and get into the holiday spirit. If you start to feel anxiety creeping up, take a break and put on your favorite songs. The best part of this holiday stress management technique is you can do it anywhere – driving around town, making dinner, or relaxing by the fire!
#9. Put on your dancin’ shoes
Did you know you can unwind and improve your mood by being active?10 Physical activity encourages your brain to release endorphins, natural chemicals that may help you feel happier.10 A 2017 study found most people noticed a mood boost after exercising for 10 minutes or less.11 So go ahead, lace up those sneakers for a brisk walk or fitness class. Get your groove on at a dance studio or bust out an impromptu dance party with your kids. Have fun with it!
#10. Start a new tradition
‘Tis the season to make memories. If you’re used to certain holiday traditions that no longer align with your health goals (we see you, holiday cookies), switch it up! Get crafty by creating festive decorations as a family or signing up for a local 5K such as an ugly sweater run or Santa walk instead.
The holidays are a special time to spend with family and friends, especially if you only see only them once each year. If you feel overwhelmed by plans and preparation, coping with holiday stress can be as simple as scheduling time for yourself each day. Even if you have only 10 minutes to spare, try these tips to get one step closer to a stress-free holiday season!
If you’re ready to feel your best during the holidays, we’d love to help! Jenny Craig’s science-backed program includes delicious chef-crafted meals and personalized support to help you reach your weight loss and health goals. Book your free appointment with a consultant today!
Elisa is a content marketing manager for Jenny Craig with over ten years of experience working in the health and fitness industry. She loves sharing her passion for living a balanced and healthy lifestyle. A San Diego native and an endurance sports enthusiast, you can usually find her swimming, biking along the coast highway or running by the beach in her free time. Elisa holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from California State University Chico.
Favorite healthy snack: mozzarella string cheese with a Pink Lady apple.
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