Well….tis the week of Thanksgiving. I have to say I am truly grateful this year for the many blessings that have come my way. Not to say it was an easy year, but one filled with growth, opportunity and huge personal challenge. The holidays are such a perfect time for reflecting, connecting and spending time with friends and family (at least the ones you like :)) but we all know that it is easy to get caught up with the hustle and bustle of the season. All of the holiday parties, Christmas shopping, family in town and people to entertain can quickly lead to stress and anxiety. I have compiled 9 tips that help me to not only get through the holiday season, but also to enjoy it!! After all, it is supposed to be the most wonderful time of year!
- Get your Vitamin D- Shorter days means less sunshine. Which also means if you have an office job, you barely see the sunshine in the winter (at least here in the north). Sunlight is critical to getting the proper amount of Vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which causes depression. You can combat this by taking a Vitamin D supplement.
- Exercise - As a personal trainer, the number one excuse my clients give me as to why they don’t workout is, ”I don’t have time”. You can image that I hear this excuse more often during the holiday season. I call BS on them of course because chances are there is a 30-minute window in your day that you can budget to getting in a quick workout. Use your lunch break or wake-up just 30 minutes earlier. Make it a priority, not an “Ill get to that if I have time” sort of thing. Commit to that 30 minutes everyday. Exercising releases endorphins, which serve as an instant mood enhancer. Yes, it is a bit tougher to get out there during the winter months, but you will be so happy you did.
- Meditate- Mediation was instrumental in helping me to reduce stress and change the way I went though my day. It completely improves upon your outlook, clarity and allows you to connect with what is really important. You can download mediation podcasts through your phone using various apps and listen to them at your convenience. I challenge you to spend 10-30 minutes in meditation a day, throughout the entire month of December. Let me know how you feel!
- Laugh- Take a few minutes to watch a funny show or crack a few jokes. Try to find the humor in things. Laughing has been shown to reduce stress hormones.
- Eat Right- I know this can be a tough one; especially this time of year when there are so many tasty holiday treats to indulge in, but stick to your healthy diet has much as you can. Not only will this reduce the holiday weight-gain (which can be stressful in itself) but also high fat and sugary foods can make us feel lethargic and interfere with properly handling stress. Prep your meals ahead of time and be sure to pack as many fruits, vegetables and lean proteins as possible. That way when you are feeling hungry or tempted you have healthy, filling options right there. Also, try making your favorite holiday dishes a bit healthier; you wont even know the difference!
- Learn to Say No- This was a difficult one for me. I tend to be a yes person. I like challenges and I never want to miss out on opportunities. I tend to take on way more than I know I should and then suddenly find myself stressed, overwhelmed and frustrated. The best thing I have learned was the power of saying NO. Try it! Next time someone asks you to do something that you really don’t feel like doing (other than your boss maybe) simply say no thank you. Chances are the person will understand and be fine with that (if they aren’t, they will get over it…guaranteed) and you will feel amazing and much less stressed about doing something you really don’t want to be doing in the first place!
- Sleep- I cant stress this one enough! Adequate and restful sleep is critical to stress reduction. My days simply feel off if I don’t get at least 8-9 hours of sleep a night. The amount of sleep you need varies person to person. You tend to figure out quickly what your own body needs to function optimally. Make sleep a priority. Sleep helps our bodies to regenerate. Sleep deprivation can manifest stress and anxiety causing us to become more emotional. Try limiting TV and computer time at least one hour before bed. Try reading in a quiet place and sipping a cup of chamomile tea to relax your body and get your mind to calm down.
- Limit Caffeine- Essentially caffeine is a stressor to the body. It works on a chemical level to actually increase stress hormones. That’s why it “picks us up”. If you are already stressed, you can see where this may be a bad combo. Try to limit yourself to one cup of coffee or caffeinated tea per day, either in the morning or early afternoon so that it does not interfere with sleep.
- Be Positive- Our minds are incredibly powerful. We can endure the most stressful situations with a positive attitude no matter what the challenge may be, however a negative attitude can crumble us. An article on Health elaborates more on how Happiness is actually linked to a longer life. When something negative begins to manifest itself in your mind shut it down and repeat something positive out of the situation 10 times. Try to only focus on that positive.
By Lindsey Diamond- Founder/ Owner