Ah, the holidays. Aren’t they great? You get to spend time with family and friends. You enjoy special gatherings to celebrate and greet people you might not spend a lot of time with. Laughter, friendly conversation, and fun punctuate this, the most wonderful time of the year. Everything goes smoothly as the soft strains of holiday music serenade you on your way. Yeah, right.
Then there’s the reality of it. Trying to fit yet another party into your already full holiday schedule. Dealing with family. You love them, but there’s a reason you don’t spend every weekend together. Certain family members and their foibles have a way of making you wish that you had taken that job in Prague that would have required expatriating. Holiday stress piles on top of normal stress until you just want to put on your green Grinch suit and “Bah! Humbug” your way through the season.
So how do you reduce your stress levels this holiday so you can actually enjoy yourself? Well, that’s what we’re here for. Here are five tips on how to lower your blood pressure, boost your mood, and help you get ready to face whatever comes this year. Your family, however; that’s still completely up to you.
Okay, sure; you’ve heard of aromatherapy, and maybe you tuck it in the back of your mind as something you’d like to try someday. But as a way to relieve stress during the holidays, it’s amazing. The key is to know which scents to focus on. For a pick me up, focus on citrus scents. Having a diffuser with lemongrass wafting through your home is going to give you a subtle pick me up when you need it. For a bigger boost to your mood, put a bit of peppermint in the diffuser. The great thing about aromatherapy is that you can change up the scents as well, so if you need something to unwind, a good lavender or jasmine oil will help calm those frayed nerves.
The Power of Sunlight
In the winter, the amount of sunlight you get decreases, and with it, the production of that magical feel-good hormone, serotonin. It may seem like a simple fix, but taking the time to soak up a little bit more sunshine will make you feel better as well. Plus, sunshine is vital for the production of vitamin D, which not only helps regulate your blood pressure, it also helps control the production of insulin. That’s vital for helping take care of those high sugar days when everyone is stuffing cookies and treats in your face. Take a walk on sunny days during your lunch hour, or sit next to a non-UV treated window to let the sun do its thing for you.
Learn to Laugh About It
You might not think that there’s much to laugh about during a hectic holiday season, but that is part of what makes it so important that you do. Laughter has many positive effects, both mentally and physically. According to a study by the Mayo Clinic, laughter has both short and long term effects. Short term benefits include the activation and relief of your stress response as well as increasing respiration and circulation. This helps your muscles relax and reduces the symptoms of stress. Long term effects improve your mood overall through the release of neuropeptides that improve your brain chemistry. Watch a funny movie or listen to a comedy special on Spotify to tickle your funny bone.
Treat Yourself to Something Spicy
One of the odd things about spicy food is that the burn is actually beneficial for your mood. The initial burn triggers your brain to release a surge of endorphins, which are your body’s natural painkillers and help you feel better. Your brain also increases the serotonin levels up there, helping improve your mood. Additionally, the heat causes an increase in circulation that makes you feel more revitalized and energetic. Whether it’s just adding a dash of sriracha to your soup or taking a bit out of a jalapeño, it’s easy to get that spicy kick back into your life.
Get Some Exercise
The last tip is one of the simplest tips, yet often the hardest to do. It’s just to get out and get some exercise. When you’re stressed, going for a brisk walk is often the last thing you want to do, but it can have the most drastic effect on your mood in the long run. In the short term, a brisk exercise session can boost your mood for up to 12 hours. In the long term, the benefits of working out are well proven and will continue to have a lasting effect on your mental and physical condition. Working out for just an hour total per week will increase your overall health and just make you feel better. And as you feel better, the stress and worry of the holiday won’t have such a big impact on your life.
There are your five best ways to reduce stress during these holidays. We know it’s impossible to completely remove all stress from your life, but these tips should keep you from pulling out your hair at odd moments. We at ThinkCrucial would like to wish you a very happy holiday and a Happy New Year.
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