15 Expert Tips on How to Handle Stress during the Holiday Season

15 Expert Tips on How to Handle Stress during the Holiday Season

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1. Just walk away

Stress isn’t going to go away but you can. This is a time of the year when people tend to reflect on what hasn’t gone well, Golden says, “and a lot of things come up.” When you know this will happen, leave the room. Go outside and get some fresh air or talk to other people. Or consider having family get-togethers in restaurants. People tend to be more reserved when they are in public and don’t pick on others.

2. Stay out in the sun

Sunlight increases the level of serotonin (known as the “happy” hormone) in your body. Light therapy – using a light box for a couple of hours a day – is considered one of the most effective ways for people to deal with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). So be outside during sunny days or stay by the window.

3. Have a plan

“It’s really important to keep what you really want to do with the holidays,” Golden says. Plan for fun activities if you know stressful times are coming and stick with the schedule. If you know your relatives will be picking at each other, plan to meet with friends. If you know you’ll have to cook, plan to order the food (or at least most of it).

4. Citrus fragrances

This one may sound strange but research has shown that smelling citrus fragrances can restore the stress-induced immunosuppression, suggesting that citrus fragrances may have an effect on restoring the homeostatic balance. So smell lemon, for example, to increase the levels of norepinephrine, a hormone that affects mood.

5. Ditch your phone, laptop

There is a scientific connection between smartphones and stress – people constantly check messages and alerts and worry why they haven’t heard back from boyfriends, girlfriends, potential partners, work, etc. Turn off your phone for a few hours. You won’t miss the messages but you may miss some fun times with the family or friends.

6. Lower your expectations

This is a big one, according to Golden. People have great expectation for Christmas since it’s just once a year but the reality is different. They want everybody to get along and be happy but the truth is that having a lot of people, all of whom have their own individual personalities, can be challenging. Don’t obsess over everything being perfect because it never will be. Accept than and enjoy yourself.

7. Put pressure on the hoku spot

According to Chinese medicine, the fleshy place between your index finger and thumb can do wonders. Squeeze it hard for about 30 seconds and you should feel less stresses and tense. People often do this when they have a headache. The Hoku point is popular in acupuncture and acupressure to relieve pain.

8. Spend time out of the house

Studies have shown that being outdoors boosts creativity and improves mood. So next time you start feeling too many emotions, just grab your jacket and go for a walk or plan to meet people in the park or in a bar or a restaurant. Try not to stay in small enclosed spaces for too long. Your house and office are enough.

9. Try a new hobby

Taking your mind off the usual stuff and concentrating on something new and exciting can boost your mood significantly. Some helpful hobbies for stress relief are playing cards, painting, dancing, volunteering and playing sports.

10. Breakfast before coffee

You probably have heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day? So why not start fresh with high-quality nutrients rather than caffeine? Drinking coffee on an empty stomach sharply increases your blood sugar making you irritated and anxious.

11. Listen to music

Studies show that listening to your favorite music is a great wat to relieve stress. Happy tunes relax blood vessels and increase blood flow. Another reason to listen to music is that it can help you eat less. Since overeating is one the most common problem people face during the holidays, you may want to keep your iPod charged as all times.

12. Try working out

Ah, the unlimited benefits of exercising… As far overall cognitive function goes, working out enhances it. Stress affects your brain. Your nervous system affects the rest of the body which then feels that impact of anxiety. Scientists have found that doing aerobic exercises on regular basis decreases overall levels of tension, and it elevates mood.

13. Don't schedule too many things to do

If everybody is taking time off, why should you work more? Don’t fill your schedule with more tasks than you can handle. Don’t put yourself in a position where you feel overwhelmed or pressured to finish everything you’ve planned for. It’s OK to slow down.

14. Plan a vacation

When you feel like emotions can get the better of you, step away and make plans for a real week-long vacation. Looking forward to happy moment puts a smile on your face and lowers your stress levels.

15. Ask for help

If you feel like you can’t handle the stress by yourself, there is no shame in seeking advice from professionals who specialize in helping people overcome anxiety. You may ask a friend for help. Talking to good listeners is a good way of “getting things out of your system.”