It’s the most wonderful time of the year…. but it can also be a very busy and stressful time of the year. With all the obligations and events our “to-do” list is evergrowing during the holidays and the stress response can rear its ugly head causing us to feel worried, depleted, and fatigued. The good news is there are several things we can do to reduce our stress levels! Here are few suggestions for ways to combat stress and enjoy this wonderful time of year to the fullest extent:
1. Move! Exercise promotes the release of “feel-good” chemicals in our brains. It doesn’t have to be intense – simple things such as taking a stroll, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and doing some shoulder rolls or neck stretches at your desk can impact the flow of those feel-good vibes!
2. Do something that makes you smile or laugh. Maybe it’s a watching your favorite tv show, reading a book, painting or coloring, dancing, cooking, spending time with beloved family and friends, or any number of other things. When we engage in activities that make us smile or laugh it lowers the stress hormone in our bodies and boosts endorphins.
3. Practice gratitude. Take time each day to make note of the things you are grateful for. It could be something as simple as the sunshine on a cold winter day or it could be a major accomplishment that you’ve been working towards. Either way, when we make time for gratitude we cancel out our negative thoughts and anxieties.
4. Breathe deeply and be present. This can be done anywhere at anytime and has an immediate effect on your stress response. Take just a few moments to sit or stand tall and breathe deeply in through your nose as you observe the feeling of your breath and sensations within and around your body. As you breathe, you may find it helpful to place your hand on your belly, chest, or any other part of the physical body where you notice your breath. Breathing deeply for a couple minutes will counter your stress level by engaging your parasympathetic nervous system.
We hope you find a very happy holiday season where stress is limited and smiles are abundant! CHEERS!