Part 3: Managing Stress During the Holidays (and all year-long!)
With the holiday season coming to an end, you might wonder why I am writing about staying stress-free for the holiday season. I am posting Part 3 of the Healthy Holiday series today, New Year’s Day, because the strategies for reducing stress during the holidays can also be applied to countless situations all year long. Stress is an unavoidable part of our lives, but there are plenty of effective ways to prevent feeling stressed . Below are some tips to help you manage stress during the holiday season and throughout the year.
1. Take time out for yourself
Although this can be hard during the holidays and other busy times of the year, try to find a few minutes every day to spend by yourself. Aim for about 20 minutes each day, using the time to do something relaxing and enjoyable. Taking a small break every day allows you to release stress before it builds up. Whether you spend this time reading your favorite book, taking a bubble bath, or doing yoga, your mind and body will reap the benefits of taking a little bit of “me” time!
2. Don’t be afraid to say no!
It can be very hard to say no when you are being asked to organize a fundraiser for a good cause or to plan the annual holiday party at church- which is why we end up taking on more than we should sometimes! When you are faced with too many requests for help, pick the events that are most important to you and put your all into them- and don’t be scared to ask for help when you need it!
3. Surround yourself with those who are important to you
During the holidays and throughout the year, having social support can significantly reduce stress and increase wellbeing. If you aren’t close (geographically or emotionally) to your family, don’t fret. Friends and neighbors can be just as loving and provide as much support as your own family, so spend time with the people you love, whether they are related to you or not.
4. Give back
There are plenty of opportunities to help others, especially around the holidays. Even if you don’t have any money to spend, you can still volunteer your time at a nursing home or hospital. The smiles of the people you help are your rewards (plus all of the amazing mental and physical health benefits of giving back/volunteering! Numerous studies have shown that volunteering can be incredibly healthy for your mind and body!).
5. Set reasonable goals
Whether you are planning a budget, training for a marathon, or trying to lose weight, be sure to consider what is realistic when setting your goals. Unreasonable goals can set up you up for failure and be a major source of unnecessary stress. Instead of setting huge, long-term goals, try setting daily, measurable goals to help you get to your long-term target. Achieving these smaller goals gives your self-esteem and mental health a huge boost, which subsequently helps you stick to your goals!
6. Make your health a priority
When life is busy, don’t let your health go to the wayside. Engaging in healthy behaviors is one of the best ways to minimize stress in your life. Getting enough sleep, sticking to a healthy diet, limiting alcohol consumption, and exercising regularly can help reduce stress and get you through the busiest of times.
Happy New Year and best wishes for a healthy, stress-free 2012!