8 WAYS TO COMBAT HOLIDAY STRESSThanksgiving -- and the holiday season it kicks off -- can be a stressful time for a lot of people. This is especially true if you find yourself with an endless "to-do" list and limited time. Here are eight ways to combat holiday stress:

1. Take a deep breath

Right when you wake up each morning, close your eyes, and take several deep breaths. Imagine yourself in a peaceful place, visualizing yourself achieving all your goals. Quieting down your mind right before you begin your day can help you get it off to a great start. Whenever you feel anxious or stressed out during your day, take quick five-minute relaxation breaks to calm yourself down.

2. Make time for exercise

One of the best ways to bust stress during the holidays is to exercise regularly. Physical activity not only boosts your energy levels but also elevates your mood. Rigorous exercise, such as running, increases the production of endorphins, which are your body's feel-good neurotransmitters.

3. Eat healthily

At this time of the year, it's easy to reach for sugary treats. But to feel your best and to be able to combat stress, it's essential that you follow a healthy diet. This means loading up on lean proteins, whole grains, healthy fats, and plenty of fruits and vegetables. Avoid refined carbs and sugars that'll only tank your mood and energy levels.

4. Create realistic to-do lists

Writing down all that you have to do during the holidays will help you better evaluate which tasks are doable. Be realistic about what you put down on your list. It's also important to incorporate self-care tasks on that list, such as going to the gym or meditating. Alternate between holiday to-dos and self-care to-dos so that you don't feel deprived and burned out.

5. Be generous

One of the best ways to stay happy and cheerful at this time of the year is to act generously with others. This doesn't mean you have to spend money, either. You can compliment others, offer a helping hand, and get creative with gifts and thank you's.

6. Stop with the "shoulds"

Let go of the idea that your holidays will be postcard-perfect. Drop all the "shoulds" and unrealistic expectations that create stress and conflict, such as "everyone should have fun." If you let go of having to have things be a certain way, you're able to enjoy things just as they are.

7. Part with an old tradition

Don't put pressure on yourself to keep old traditions alive. As you and your family change, sometimes these traditions will no longer serve you. Don't be afraid to part with an old tradition, and instead, embrace a new one.

8. Get creative

The best gifts are the most thoughtful ones. Give someone a voucher for a massage, bake cookies, or design a mug. If you do choose to spend money on gifts, do so wisely and make sure you can afford it.

Have a jolly good time!

Put yourself first this holiday season. Drop whatever's not working for you, make sure you're engaging in self-care regularly, and practice gratitude to combat holiday stress effectively.

References
  1. "7 Tips to Relieve Holiday Stress," Psychology Today, December 1, 2009.
  2. "Six Ways to Reduce Your Holiday Stress," Forbes, November 25, 2013.

holidays | mental health | wellness | health