The holidays are a time for get togethers with family and friends, baking and eating delicious treats and sharing scrumptious meals. While these are all wonderful activities, there can be tension between family members and self-imposed stress of having the “right” presents and cooking a fabulous meal. As of this writing, it’s also difficult to predict if there will be restrictions on gathering over the holidays, adding another layer of stress to making plans. There are many strategies available for helping to manage stress at this time of year and this month I’m providing links to the ones I found that included some more novel ideas as well as reminders of many of the strategies that are very familiar. It’s important to stick to the approaches that work for you, and, perhaps there are one or two you could add to your toolkit.
The University of Colorado produces excellent articles on many topics. I do find it interesting that the Faculty of Law has an article on 25 ways to reduce stress! https://www.colorado.edu/law/25-quick-ways-reduce-stress My favourites on this list are:
- Giving yourself a hand massage or rubbing your feet over a golf ball – I started massaging my hands recently and it has so many health benefits beyond bringing the heart rate down. I see an article on reflexology coming soon!
- Eating chocolate!! As a self-proclaimed chocolate lover, this is right up my alley. Stick to darker chocolate, though, for the health benefits and limit your intake to just over an ounce.
- Drop cold water on your wrists – Cooling the larger arteries under your wrists can calm the whole body. This is one I hadn’t heard of!
Shelly Phillips is a parenting coach, consultant and blogger. In this article, she talks about her top 3 tips for reducing stress in 15 minutes, without doing exercise. https://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/reduce-stress-in-15-minutes.html .
- Take a bath – this has been my go to strategy this fall. Add in Epsom salts for deep relaxation in a short time. You can also come up with your most creative ideas in the bath!
- Go outside – this is all about the benefits of Vitamin D from the sun. Now that the days are shorter, supplementing with extra Vitamin D is also helpful through the winter.
- Laugh! – I’ve written about the benefits of laughter before. As Shelly says, start by saying “ha, ha, ha” several times. It really is contagious!
The Mayo Clinic also has a list of tips at https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20047544 . The ones that stand out for me are:
- Acknowledge your feelings – it’s totally normal to have feelings of sadness or to be nervous around the holidays, particularly if you’ve experienced a loss or big change this year. Giving these feelings time to be there, rather than pushing them down, will allow them to move through more quickly
- Plan ahead – it can be so easy to leave things to the last minute, creating even more stress. Looking ahead and planning specific days for baking or purchasing gifts can keep everything moving and reduce stress at the same time.
- Stick to healthy habits – the holidays are often a time of overindulgence and being out of routine. As the article says, keeping hydrated, getting enough sleep and including some healthy snacks alongside the cheese, turkey and chocolate will keep your nervous system more in balance
Recognizing that it’s normal for there to be times of stress during the holiday is key, knowing what your stress triggers are and having a toolkit of strategies that you can quickly pull from, can help to minimize and alleviate the stress.
A NeurOptimal® Neurofeedback tune-up can also help to bring the nervous system back into balance and create more flow to your holiday season and into the New Year. You can book a session at https://calendly.com/2beinflow/book-a-neuroptimal-session
All the best of the season to you and yours!