It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Gingerbread! Lights on houses! Ugly sweater parties! Mulled wine!
But between the crowded shopping centers and the parties and the seasonal blues, it’s easy to fall into bad habits as a way to cope with the stress of the holiday season. Here are our best stress-busting tips for the season…
We get it. It’s cold, it gets dark early, and hot chocolate and holiday movies sounds much more appealing than spending some time at the gym. Pumping weights and getting in your 10,000 steps may be the last thing you want to do. But it’s important to stay active, especially in the midst of the holiday season when the food choices are less than stellar and the winter blues come for an extended visit. It’s important to continue with your normal exercise routines as a way to cope with stress, increase your energy, and compensate for any extra calories you may consume during the holidays. According to a study published by the American Journal of Psychiatry, researchers found that just one hour of physical activity each week was enough to prevent future cases of depression. If the gym isn’t really your thing, consider taking an extra lap around the mall while you’re shopping or bundle up and take a quick walk around your neighborhood.
Create a Holiday Budget
The financial burden of the holidays may contribute to your stress. Between the gifts and the parties, it’s easy to overspend. A survey from Gallup found that, in 2015, Americans planned to spend around $830 on average during the season. Setting up a budget for yourself is a great way to reduce financial stress so you don’t cringe every time you check your bank balance.
According to UCLA’s Mindfulness Awareness Research Center, “having an attitude of gratitude changes the molecular structure of the brain, keeps gray matter functioning, and makes us healthier and happier. When you feel happiness, the central nervous system is affected. You are more peaceful, less reactive, and less resistant.” Take some time out of your day this season to make a gratitude list that highlights for who and what you are grateful. Bringing this positive energy into the season will help mitigate any stress, which may help others feel more at ease as well.