Coping Tips for Holiday Stress
1. Breathe – When you feel yourself getting tense or pressured, just notice your breathing. We manage our nervous systems through our breathing. Stop and breathe into your belly, deeply and slowly. This helps you to get out of your head and into your body.
2. Get Physical – Exercise cleanses stress chemicals from the body, reduces fatigue and boosts energy. Schedule time so that it becomes a part of your day. On days you can’t squeeze in that workout, simply stretch for a few minutes here and there throughout the day. Benefits from exercise are cumulative!
3. Sleep More – Allow yourself extra time for good quality sleep to counteract the effects of stress. (at least 7 hours a night) This means no caffeine after 2:00pm that day because this will interfere with your sleep. Also, make sure your room in very dark. We need darkness to produce melatonin in the night which is an important hormone for managing cortisol levels.
4. Energize with Food – Avoid the energy swings created by sugary snacks, processed foods or caffeine and other artificial stimulants. Instead, focus on healthy snacks like nuts or seeds and other high protein snacks. Nutrient dense food is important when ‘stressed’ because stress increases cellular activity and therefore our bodies need more nutrients to function well. Vitamin B and C are considered anti-stress vitamins, so try to get more foods that are rich in B and C and/or consider supplementing through the holidays.
In addition to ‘what’ you eat, consider ‘how’ you eat. Be mindful when eating. No more standing in the kitchen eating over the sink! Practicing mindfulness while you eat helps nutrient absorption. Ask yourself if you are eating to nourish your body or if you are you eating to nourish your emotions. (stress eating) Try taking three deep breaths before you begin eating and then rest for about 10 minutes when finished and breathe deeply again.
5. Turn Inward – The real key to finding balance is to focus inwardly and listen to what is inside. Take regular moments to connect with yourself. Try taking a walk in nature, nap, pray, do a two-minute meditation or try twenty minutes of yoga. All will help to create balance over the busy holidays.