A child opening a christmas present under a blanket

Top 10 ways to manage stress during the holidays

The holidays are a major source of stress for many people. It’s an extremely busy time of the year, and many of us have a tough time managing everything that is going on. Daily life is hectic enough. When we’re finding the perfect gifts for loved ones, attending holiday parties and family get-togethers, and making plans for New Year’s, our tendency is to let our eating and sleeping habits slip, so it’s easy to be a little more stressed than usual.

The key to minimizing stress during the holiday season is being better at managing it, which helps us avoid the seasonal blues and makes it easier to stay happy and healthy. Here are some tips:

1. Exercise

Exercise is one of the first things people tend to give up when they become busy over the holidays. The problem is that working out is actually one of the best sources of stress relief. Have you ever noticed how much better and more confident you feel after the gym? There is a reason for this. Exercise helps to reduce stress and anxiety and helps to fight depression. As a bonus, it also helps burn off those extra holiday calories!

2. Meditate

Meditation is one of the best ways to clear your mind. If you start to feel overwhelmed, find a quiet place, close your eyes and focus on your breathing. This will help to relax your mind and body, and give you a much-needed break from everything that’s going on around you.

3. Get outside and enjoy the sunshine

Sometimes just getting outside, going for a walk and enjoying the sunshine is all you need to eliminate tension and stress. According to Health.com, the sun “stimulates the production of feel-good serotonin and also helps relieve seasonal affective disorder (SAD)… To ease SAD symptoms, spend time outdoors or near a window on sunny days, or ask your doc about phototherapy (a treatment using a box that emits full-spectrum light).” To learn more about SAD, check out Understanding and managing seasonal affective disorder.

4. Set aside some personal time

Even though you are busy, you should still make time for yourself. What you do with your personal time is up to you, but you need to make time for it. Whether it’s reading a book at your favourite coffee shop, going for a walk or watching your favourite TV show, taking some time out for yourself will help you de-stress.

5. Get enough sleep

Sleep is another thing that people often sacrifice during the holidays. However, it’s even more important to get enough rest when your daily schedule is jam-packed with things to do. A lack of sleep has a negative impact on your energy level, mood and cognitive functioning, which can further contribute to your level of stress.

6. Eat right

This is probably the most difficult thing to do during the holidays. Baked goods, chocolates, candy and other holiday treats seem to be everywhere you turn. However, it’s important to have some self-control and eat reasonably well. Poor eating habits place undue stress on the body, which will leave you feeling lethargic, and impact your energy and mood.

7. Avoid taking on more than you can handle

You can quickly reduce your level of stress by committing to doing less this year. People often take on more than they can handle, but simply cutting down your to-do list can make the season more enjoyable and stress-free.

8. Ask for help

Don’t try to be a superhero and do it all yourself. Ask for help if you need it. Enlist the help of your family members and friends to plan holiday meals, prepare dinner and help with other holiday-related tasks.

9. Minimize technology use

One of the main sources of stress in our lives is technology. We always have our cell phones turned on, and we are always in contact with the digital world, preventing us from being able to relax. Staying connected is exhausting, and it only adds to your stress level. Put your phone down and turn it off to get away. You will appreciate the peace and quiet.

10. Don’t sweat the small stuff

While it may be easier said than done, it’s important to remember that not everything is worth getting upset about. If you let the busy crowds at the mall, things not going as planned or other small things get to you, it will only increase your level of stress. Keep things in perspective!