Holiday Overhaul: Enjoy a Stress-Free Season

Instead of the most stressful, make this season the Most Wonderful Time of the Year again.

Thanksgiving officially marks the beginning of the holiday season. Groan!

Remember when you actually looked forward to the holidays? Think waaayyyy back…to a time when it was easy to get caught up in the spirit of the season, and it was fun instead of fatiguing. The Holiday Spirit is supposed to be a happy, generous, and loving one, but all too often the obligations of the season overwhelm and drag us down instead of buoying us up. The American Psychological Association reports that the quality of stress during the holidays is an extra-special one, making what is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year the most stressful time of the year instead.

The holidays should be a time of counting blessings, being thankful, remembering the Nativity, celebrating the Festival of Lights, and excitedly looking forward to a new year. If you can’t remember a time when the Thanksgiving/Hanukkah/Christmas/New Year’s season brought joy instead of anxiety, it’s time for a holiday overhaul.

Cut Down on Commitments

Between the seasonal concerts, caroling, parties, and shopping, holiday schedules get overloaded. Pick and choose the events you have time for and want to participate in.

The pressure to do everything and do it perfectly is one of the top reasons the holidays have become so stressful. Already full schedules get overloaded with extra shopping, seasonal events, and hosting and attending holiday parties. Web MD says the way to minimize holiday stress is to add a new word to your vocabulary. Learn how to politely say “no” to doing things you don’t have time for or simply do not want to do. Take a good hard look at the traditions and obligations that mean the most to you and cross the rest off your list.

Stress-Fighting Supplement

5-HTP helps alleviate holiday stress and can keep you from putting on seasonal pounds. Image by Olly Farrell/Flickr

Stress can interfere with sleep, and not getting sufficient quality rest can be stressful. It’s a vicious circle, but one that can be stopped with help from a natural supplement. 5-HTP is a plant seed extract that has been used to treat everything from headaches to depression to fibromyalgia. The supplement increases serotonin and, according to Health, is thought to diminish anxiety and help you sleep better. Also, since gaining weight during the holidays is also a cause of stress, there’s another reason to supplement with 5-HTP this season. The Natural Medicine Journal reports that studies have shown that 5-HTP influences eating behaviors and reduces caloric intake, making it helpful for weight loss and weight control.

Press “Pause”

If you can’t remember to take a breathing break, set your watch or phone alarm to go off a couple of times a day. Image by Matthew Henry/Shopify

An effective way to alleviate stress is to get off the merry-go-round a couple of times a day. Forbes suggests scheduling regular breaks to pause and reset yourself. Remember to breathe, especially when you are smack in the middle of everything happening at once. More than remembering to inhale and exhale, indulge in some breathing exercises to reduce anxiety. Prevention recommends Ujjyai, an alternate nostril breathing technique, and says that it’s been shown to decrease anxiety by over 40 percent. It’s super simple to do, too. Just close your eyes and use the thumb and ring finger of your right hand to hold one nostril closed at a time so you can alternate breathing out and then in through one side, then the other. Five minutes is all it takes to breathe away almost half of your stress.

Keep Healthy Habits in Your Schedule

TargitFit class.2

Take time out during the holiday madness. A quick class at the health club or hitting the treadmill or stationary bike are effective stress-relievers.

Between the stress and the overeating, the holiday season is no time to let your workout fall to the wayside. Psychology Today says that exercise is one of the best ways to combat stress. In addition to the valuable calorie-burning effects, physical activity also fights tension, fatigue, and depression. When you’re feeling stressed about everything that needs to be done, bag it all for 20 minutes and go for a run, a bike ride, or hit the weight room. You’ll feel tons better afterward and will actually have higher energy levels to help you work through your holiday to-do list.

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