10 easy ways to treat yourself to less holiday stress
By M. Carolyn Miller
As the countdown to the holidays begins, you are likely to feel stressed. Holiday stress can cause acne, hives, rashes, and fever blisters. It can also worsen ongoing skin challenges. The good news is that you can control stress by managing your response to it.
Here’s 10 easy ways you can help manage your stress during the holidays:
Deep breathing is the body’s natural relaxation response. It increases the supply of oxygen to your brain and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system. The result is a state of calm.
The beauty of deep breathing is that you can do it anywhere—when you’re driving, waiting in line, or cooking.
To breathe deeply:
- Inhale to the count of 5 and let your abdomen expand.
- Hold your breath for a few seconds.
- Exhale to the count of 5.
You will feel the benefits within a few deep breaths.
“Holiday up” your exercise routine—don’t skip it
Exercise decreases tension, boosts circulation and fires off those lovely endorphins that make us feel good. And you have lots of choices.
- Use a hard workout to take your mind off your to-do list
- Try a yoga class not only to stretch your body, but also to create a meditative calm
- Turn exercise into a social event, be it a long walk with a friend or an aerobics class that makes you laugh with others when you fumble
- Dance—in the kitchen, on the dance floor, with your kids—and “make merry” this holiday season
Create a bedtime ritual to help you sleep
Sleeping less than 7-8 hours triggers a vicious cycle of tiredness, crankiness and undue stress. And all too often, it is a result of worry about the worst that could happen (and that usually never does!).
Instead, when you get into bed:
- Take a few deep breaths to slow down
- Make a mental list of what you’re thankful for about the day
- Visualize the holiday celebration down to every detail unfolding perfectly
Set your budget and meet it by being creative
Thoughtfulness goes a long way in gift giving. So often, it is not the gift we give, but the thoughtfulness put into it. Don’t limit yourself to gifts that you can purchase. Think creatively about what each recipient needs and provide it.
For instance, does a single friend need a new frying pan? Buy one and add some of your favorite recipes to the gift. Does a couple you know need a night out without the kids? Give them a coupon that includes a sleepover for their kids at your place.
Take 10 minutes a day for yourself
Remember the flight attendant’s instructions about oxygen masks? The same applies when managing stress. Before you can help others, you have to take care of yourself.
With that in mind, make it a priority to take 10 minutes a day just for you, whether it is over that first cup of coffee or tea in the morning when the household is still asleep, or at night after the kids are in bed.
During that time, you can light a candle or watch the Christmas tree lights and let your mind wander, or close your eyes and feel what you’re feeling without judgment.
Give yourself permission to say “no”
During the holidays, everybody wants to get together to socialize. Use this time to get clear on what is really important to you right now.
Then, give yourself permission to graciously say “no” to the social event or business function or put it off until the New Year.
Share the season—and the tasks
Too often, asking for help is seen as a sign of weakness. But in reality, it can be a primary source for creating the give-and-receive bond that is part of healthy relationships.
Wrapping gifts or cooking the holiday meal together becomes not only a way to more efficiently accomplish the tasks, but also to create deeper bonds in the process.
“Pivot” to keep the peace
The holiday season is relatively short and not the time to bring up differences. So if your cousin’s politics makes you seethe, or your in-laws drive you crazy, use a tool called “pivoting” to see them in a more positive light.
When a negative thought about a person comes up, pivot, that is, turn that negative thought into something positive. For instance, compliment a family member on a new hairdo, or thank your in-laws for being so good with the kids.
Take time for meaningful family conversations
On a night or two leading up to the big event, turn off the TV and ask family members to put away their devices. Then, suggest a family activity to initiate meaningful conversations about the season—what it means to them, what they love best about it, and more.
Family activities can include:
- A winter walk under the stars, all bundled up
- A drive together to look at Christmas lights
- Sitting around by the tree with candlelight
Write away the bad juju
Every writer secretly knows that writing is a selfish act. It enables the writer to work through a personal problem or emotional issue and find perspective and resolution.
You can steal that practice. Using a journal:
- Record the actual events that prompted the feeling, such as a familiar song
- Write about what the event triggered for you emotionally, such as a longing for a family member far away
- Feel the feelings that come up, even if it means shedding a few tears
- Keep writing about what you’re feeling and thinking
- Pay attention to how a larger perspective appears on the page to bring closure and a “happy ending”
Want to learn more about how to reduce stress for clearer skin? Comment below and tell us what you’re interested in learning! Also, check out our Quick Tip campaign on social media, in which we discuss effective ways to keep skin clear!
About the Author:
M. Carolyn Miller is a freelance writer who specializes in thought leadership blogs, feature articles, and more. Check out her website at www.cultureshape.com.