The Christmas season is in full swing! You know what that means—plenty of holiday stimuli. Santa Claus runs rampant in your town, “Silent Night” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” blare from your radio, trees light every window, and horses disguised as reindeer trot down the street. Now, there are two types of people: those who love the holidays and those who hate the holidays. Either way, there is probably some degree of stress involved. Because even if you love Christmastime, you have so much on your mind and so much to do, which prevents you from fully enjoying it. We get it—and we’re here to help you curtail this stress. Here are 10 ways to relieve the inevitable stress that comes with the holiday season and, in turn, have a Merry Christmas:
Meditation comes with a multitude of benefits, but at the top of the list is its ability to significantly reduce stress. This practice is a way of calming the mind and finding peace within—and it will surely provide you relief from the holiday hustle and bustle, as its effectiveness is proven in multiple studies, including this one. This study “Meditation programs for psychological stress and well-being: a systematic review and meta-analysis” studied 3515 participants and showed that mindfulness meditation improved anxiety, depression and pain—additionally, it improved stress/distress. So, consider meditating as a way to remedy any feelings of anxiety, depression, or stress during this busy time of year.
2) Budget, or stop buying everyone gifts!
The holiday season demands (or at least influences) an increase in spending, as we all scramble to find the perfect holiday gifts for our friends, family, and significant others. However, there is a very effective way to reduce this rather stressful aspect of the season: budget. Sit down and calculate just how much money you can and should spend on gifts for your loved ones. This way, you’re less likely to splurge on a purchase you just can’t afford, and in turn, prevent some guaranteed headaches. Or, do one better and start a new gift-giving tradition with your friends and family. Recommend Secret Santa or White Elephant, so that each person only has to spend money on a singular gift. This will save everyone money, not to mention these are both fun games that everyone can look forward to each year.
3) Get some form of exercise in.
We can’t stress enough just how beneficial exercise is to your health, both physical and mental. And one of these benefits is the stress reduction—simply going for a stroll around the block or a light jog on the treadmill can reduce levels of the body’s stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. So whenever the holiday hype starts to get to you, stop what you’re doing and fit in a workout that suits you. If you’re the opposite of a gym rat and it’s too cold outside for you to work up the motivation for an outdoor workout, try working out in your very own living room. You can simply pull up a YouTube video of an instructor guiding a workout session, or find another resource online.
4) Take in the beauty of your Christmas tree.
You heard it right—simply admiring your Christmas tree just might reduce your stress levels. Why? Multiple studies have shown that immersing yourself in nature helps to relieve stress, anger, and fear, as well as enhance more pleasant feelings. Additionally, admiring Christmas decorations has proven to reduce stress and stimulate positive emotions, of which are rooted in the nostalgia of childhood. So, don’t waste any time. Put up the tree, hang the lights, and spend some time simply immersing yourself in your beautiful decorations. Your sanity will thank you.
5) Create a schedule (and adjust as needed).
The primary reason I’m stressed during the holiday season is that I have so much to do and so little time: pick out a tree, decorate the tree, do my holiday gift shopping, watch all of my favorite Christmas movies, make time for friends and family, and on and on. While I could certainly do without a few items on the list, I just don’t want to! So, to curtail the stress that comes with this, I make and abide by a schedule. While you can certainly adjust plans as needed, this will give you an initial guide to follow, which will provide you with a little peace of mind.
6) Practice mindfulness.
Mindfulness is just what we all need during the stress-inducing holiday season. This method is all about living in the present moment and paying attention to the here and now. For example, instead of hurrying home from work, try to enjoy the walk: focus on each step forward and take in all of the scenery. Tuning into your surroundings will not only decrease levels of stress, but increase life satisfaction and positive relationships with those around you. Christmas is the perfect time of year to further these relationships and become your happiest self.
7) Take a few deep breaths.
If you just can’t get into meditation or mindfulness techniques, try taking a few deep breaths—this simple practice just might prove enough to ease your mind and relieve your stress this holiday season, as it has many times before. Simply breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, as you allow your stomach to tighten and relax again. This deep-breathing technique can help you to relieve that stress and anxiety you might be experiencing during the holidays (especially with your family in town).
8) Listen to your favorite music.
That’s right, simply plugging into your iPhone or turning the radio up in your car can significantly reduce stress. In fact, there’s such a thing as music therapy: an established health profession that uses music in therapy to address physical, emotional, and cognitive needs. And while this is a little more complicated than listening to Spotify, it’s all built on the foundation that music is a powerful entity—and additionally, an effective stress-reliever.
9) Nap it out.
Naps are traditionally viewed as lazy and unproductive—but they actually provide us with some amazing health benefits, one being stress reduction. While it might not be beneficial to nap for hours at a time, sleeping for a good 30 minutes will do the trick and get you through the stressful holiday season.
10) Kiss someone under the mistletoe.
As it turns out, kissing may be just the ticket to easing your stress this December! Doing so releases oxytocin—or the “love hormone”—which, in turn, has proven to reduce stress levels. So, don’t hesitate to stand under that mistletoe! It just might result in a peck and, in turn, lower levels of stress.