The holidays can be an incredibly stressful time for many of us. There could be negative family challenges to deal with, along with tighter schedules and an extra long to-do lists; throw in a multitude of outside obligations and you have yourself a recipe for massive stress overload.
In addition, the holiday season coincides with cold and flu season. It is paramount to take extra care of your attitude and immune system in order to have a healthy, happy holiday season with those you love and truly enjoy being around.
Here are 9 simple, yet powerful, ways to ensure you stay in control and are able to relax and enjoy the beauty the holidays have to offer.
1) Eat real food - Inevitably, at this time of year, you’ll be tempted with, empty-caloried treats at work, parties and at get togethers. But in order to be your most energetic and happy self, it’s best to eat foods that do not come out of a box, are high in sugar or overly processed.
Eating whole, real foods restores balance and reduces the effects of stress on your body. Replacing harmful substances such as alcohol, and refined sugars, with clean proteins, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats helps regulate your hormone levels, including stress hormones. The Science of Eating Clean offers a great overview of the benefits achieved when eating clean. Your mind and body will thank you and you will soar through the holiday season like a champ!
2) Get a good night’s sleep – Lack of quality sleep and stress can cause a vicious cycle – if you’re stressed, then you can’t sleep, which makes you less prepared to handle the stresses of what the following day may bring, which could lead to even more stress. To relieve stress before bed try ...
3) Identify your priorities and establish boundaries - Consider what is most important and valuable to you during the holidays and keep those as priorities. Work your schedule around your must dos then fill in your schedule from there. If spending quality time with loved ones you don't see often or working out daily in order to keep your body and mind on track are important to you, then plan to say no to less important events.
Can you skip the cookie exchange? Do you really need dozens of cookies?
This will keep you out of overwhelm and from feeling like you're being pulled in a multitude of directions; and ensure you get what's really important to you accomplished...and what's not...off your plate.
4) Be realistic - Try not to expect the holidays be a time of absolute harmony and bliss. Understand that you do not have to be perfect. Your meals don't have to be Martha Stewart-esque and you don't have to spend yourself in to debt in order to give the perfect gift to every friend and family member. Go with the flow and focus on being the best you that you can be...the rest will fall in to place.
5) Be Grateful - Many of us have a great deal to be thankful for. We know this. We know that having our health is a supreme blessing. We realize that a roof over our heads and food on the table is nothing to take for granted. It is quite likely that if you are reading this that your standard of living is greater than a large percentage of the world's population. But in the midst of blessings can be chaos. Chaos that can make it hard to see the blessings through the challenge. Take time every morning and evening (and throughout the day as often as possible) to be grateful and give thanks for al that you have.
6) Get moving - One of the best ways to overcome stress during the holidays, or any other time of year for that matter, is to move your body! Research shows that getting physical not only boosts your fitness and energy levels, but can also elevate your moods, reduce anger, tension and fatigue. Don't let the season get away from you. Make time to exercise...your body and mind will thank you!
7) Take sample sized portions of holiday treats and drinks - During the holidays, it’s easy to over indulge in alcohol, sugar and processed foods. It’s best to think before you over do. The best way to stay on track is to just have a taste of these goodies rather than two or three portion sizes. If you don't have the habit of eating clean on a regular basis, then drinking alcohol or eating overly sugared or processed foods can send you off onto a sugar spiral which is difficult to bounce back from. Plan to fill up on real food (clean protein & veggies) before hitting the office party. You'l be less tempted and you will have given your body some solid fuel to work with in order to avoid the negative impact that unhealthy party foods provide.
8) Get your needs met - Writing down all that you have to do during the holidays will help you realize how do-able your commitments are. Be realistic as to what you put on your list and the amount of time it will actually take to complete each task. Once you complete a must do on the list, then do something nice for yourself. For example...once all holiday shopping is complete, splurge on a pedicure for yourself or once you have taken care of hosting the kids class party, hit a yoga class to unwind and rejuvenate yourself.
9) Be generous - It's not all about money, but more so, about your attention and time. Give a compliment, offer to help a co-worker, friend or family member with an errand or to store gifts at your house vs. theirs; and don't forget to smile more...
Your smile can be the most welcomed gift you give all season. :)
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