A staggering number of Americans are reporting feelings of high stress during the hustle and bustle of the season. We were not surprised when our community asked for help with choosing stress busting hacks that actually work during the holidays and into the new year. While the holidays are known to be a joyful time, they can also be exasperating, leaving you feeling burnt out. The good news is that your hair-pulling holiday stress can help build your resilience. Here are our top 12 hacks to keep you feeling your best:
Ready, Set, MANAGE EXPECTATIONS!
Find yourself starting sentences with: ‘I should’ (example: I should have spent less) or ‘they should have’ (for example: They should have called me.) STOP and validate the emotion by asking yourself how you feel. Disappointed or sad? Sit with that for ONLY 15 minutes and then focus on what is next so you aren’t feeling stuck with repetitive thoughts. The next hour – how can you look for ways to generate positive emotions now – don’t block yourself from experiencing the good in the holidays.
Saying NO Is Not a Confrontation
During the holiday season, it is human nature to try hard to please people. Get comfortable with saying NO. This way you won’t overextend yourself. Maybe it looks like one holiday party, one family party, a few facetimes with friends! If you say yes and it feels like stress is piling on, it may be time to re-group and ask yourself, “is this too much?” Taking care of YOU will make for a happier self… which in turn can spread some happiness to your fam.
Put Yourself Out There
It’s OK to not be OK right now. Please try not to isolate yourself. Go for a walk in your neighborhood – be among other people even if you are not interacting with them. A smile received from a stranger can increase feelings of happiness. A 30-minute walk will boost your endorphins (those feel-good chemicals in the body.) It’s a great way to manage feelings of loneliness during the holidays.
Happy OR Correct? You Decide.
Family conflict doesn’t disappear over the holidays. Our trick, “I’d rather feel happy than feel correct.” Somethings aren’t worth battling over the turkey about! Instead, exercise your family leadership muscle and suggest activities such as singing. A game of singing charades or family karaoke can have a beneficial influence on pain, fatigue and anxiety. Singing together especially helps with children. Changes the mood in the room, redirects their attention, and boosts endorphins!
Eating large meals, especially if you typically don’t, can make you feel sluggish and lead to feeling down. Beat the bloat and boost your mood by going for a walk after the family meal. Bonus – bringing your family along (or getting them on a call) to enjoy some extra time with loved ones.
Stop, Drop and Breathe
Alternate nostril breathing – this is easy to do anywhere. Research shows it helps to relax your body and mind, reduce anxiety, promote overall well-being. It can help to get us through those hair pulling moments. How to do it? Inhale through your left nostril and then close the left nostril with your fingers. Open the right nostril and exhale through this side.
I Owe You
Stressed about last minute gifts? Accept imperfection. Try gifting an IOU for a fun experience together in the future – something new for you to book. Zip lining in January requires no gift wrap. Families won’t remember that you ran out of gift wrap (or are strapped for cash this month) and half their present is wrapped in unmatched pieces of paper – but they will remember a stressed loved one.
Live In the Moment
Overwhelmed? Take a moment to find something positive in the moment. When in a long line just waiting to get home to take off the mask, take a look around. What can we notice that is a brief moment of joy? A smiling kid. Gratitude you are able to purchase the gifts in your cart. Excitement to see a family member you missed last year.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Get sunlight! This time of year, millions experience SAD on top of feelings that can come with the holidays. Even sitting by a window to soak in some sunlight helps boost production of serotonin – the body’s feel-good chemical
Continue To Be a Creature of Habit
Stick with your routines! Don’t throw it all out the window just because you are visiting family or have guests. Keep your typical work out time – even if it has to be replaced with a brisk walk. Our brains seek routine, so even the smallest things will help us feel more ‘normal’ and at ease.
Laughing boosts mood and can be contagious. Take turns around the dinner table sharing your funniest family memory or challenge your family to a joke contest. Laughter boosts our immune function and a simple way to get your chuckle on is to set a timer for 2 minutes and laugh til the buzzer!
Get In Bed!
When stress is intense, sleep is affected. If you are finding it hard to sleep, you get more stressed and the cycle continues. How can you break the cycle? Have a holiday bedtime routine that includes cues for sleep:
-Cozy holiday pajamas
-Sip warm chamomile tea in your fav holiday mug
-Play soft sounds for sleeping. Pink noise shows up in many different places in nature, which makes it seem a bit more natural to most people’s ears than white noise. Pink noise can often be found in the wind, rain, and the sound of leaves rustling.
-Lavender pillow spray