Planning holiday meals, fighting crowds at the mall, and wrapping gifts can all make for a stressful holiday season! When we experience stress, whether we are conscious about it or not, our body releases stress hormones that can lead to tension, headaches, body aches and/or mental “fog.” Luckily, finding a healthy balance between hectic and peaceful is possible with a few simple techniques.
The first step in managing stress is simply to focus on awareness. Take several moments throughout the day to pause and observe your body. Are you clenching your teeth, holding your shoulders up toward your ears, locking your knees straight, or clawing your toes in your shoes?
Once you identify where in your body you are feeling stress, try these simple techniques.
Relax the shoulders, let your tongue rest gently at the top of your mouth, relax your toes, and let your knees bend just slightly to reduce tension.
Take a deep breath! Breathe in through your nose slowly and with LONG inspiration, followed by blowing out your mouth slowly and with LONG expiration. This allows proper oxygenation to your muscles, organs and brain.
Exercise and eat healthy. You may feel like you don’t have a second to spare, but it’s important to keep active (and racing around from store to store doesn’t count!) Even if you only have time for a brisk15-minute walk outside, do it. You will feel better and more relaxed later. Also opt for healthy foods with the right mix of protein and carbohydrates. Not only will it keep you energized, you won’t feel as guilty when it’s time to indulge in those yummy holiday treats.
Lastly, don’t forget to remind yourself of what’s really important during the holiday season. Taking time to give thanks, share with family and friends, and laugh can all instantly help you relax. Happy Holidays!