Now that Thanksgiving is over, the Christmas season has officially begun! And you know what that means—excessive exposure to holiday stimuli. There’s Santa Claus at the mall, “Silent Night” playing on the radio, glowing trees in every window, and horses dressed-up as reindeer click-clacking down the street. Now, there are two types of people: those who love it and those who hate it. But either way, there is some degree of stress involved. Because even if you love it, you have so much on your mind that you can rarely enjoy 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 little 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.
2) Budget wisely.
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.
3) Go out for a stroll or a jog.
We can’t stress enough just how beneficial exercise is for 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.
4) Take in the beauty that is 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. Therefore, spending some time picking out a perfect tree at the Christmas tree farm and admiring it for weeks to come can do your mental health some good by reducing your holiday stress levels.
5) Create and stick to a schedule.
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 give you 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, you enjoy the walk: you focus on each step forward and take in all of the scenery. Doing so will not only decrease levels of stress, but increase life satisfaction and positive relationships with those around you.
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.
8) Listen to 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 (especially these songs).
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, lesser levels of stress.