Stress Relief During The Holidays

Holiday Stress

Holiday Stress

The Holiday season is upon us! It’s the most magical time of the year, but do you ever feel as though it’s difficult to get in the cheerful spirit with all of the tasks that need to get done? Indeed, it’s that time of year where the gifts get giving and the stress levels get rising. The holidays can be such a stressful time; one of the most stressful of the entire year. Running around to different stores for a unique gift for each person in the family, planning trips to spend time with your relatives or even planning a celebration for family and friends at your house can seem like too much to achieve within such a small amount of time. If you’re feeling mentally (and physically) exhausted, you’re not alone. We are here to tell you about some practical things you can do when you begin to feel overwhelmed in order for you to get back on track with your life. Here is a list that we have created for you to help you manage your stress this upcoming month and allow you to enjoy, not dread, the holidays this year.

Stop and Breath

As your list of “to do’s” gets longer and your calendar begins to fill up, you may become overwhelmed in all that you have to get done. Some people aren’t aware that taking the time to stop what you’re doing to relax for a short period of time can go a long way. Finding a quiet place to sit for ten minutes is key to relaxing. Sit down, close your eyes and take a deep breath in. Exhale. It is important to allow yourself this time to relax not only your body but your mind. When the ten minutes is over, take one last deep breath and continue on about your day. Relaxing and taking time away from the hustle and bustle of the holidays, even if it’s just for a few minutes, will have a positive effect on your mental state and overall attitude.

Plan Ahead

Taking time now to plan for the future will be more than worth it in the long run. Letting things pile up and saying “I’ll get to that later” can lead to a buildup of stress. You may be watching your favorite T.V. show, knowing you don’t have to get anything done until next week. But taking the time to do a little each day will lessen the stress that you will face when doing a task at the last minute. Write down your shopping list and plan out each gift you need to get, write out your tasks on a calendar or planner and even create a daily list of things that need to be done that day. All of these suggestions will be helpful in reducing your overall stress.

Make Time For Yourself

Yes, the holiday season is all about giving. But with all of this giving, sometimes we forget to take care of ourselves. Going day to day without doing something you enjoy can lead to formation of stress without us realizing it. Making a list of things that you enjoy doing during your week will allow you to incorporate time for yourself into your busy schedule. Pull out your calendar and see where you can fit in some ‘me’ time. Activities such as taking a warm bath, reading, going on a walk, getting a massage, going to physical therapy or hanging out with family and friends can easily get pushed to the side during the busy holiday season. Taking this time will enhance your overall mood and allow your body to get the self care that it needs.

Get Active

Because stress has the power to affect you physically and not just mentally, it is important to get moving. Stress triggers our body to go into “fight or flight” mode, which can ultimately cause bodily aches and pains if it persists for too long. Being active has a huge effect on how we feel. One activity that is known to calm the body down is doing yoga. Whether you choose to do it right after waking up or just before going to bed, yoga is designed to relax the body through slow movements and deep breathing. When you get moving and exert your body more during the day through specific activities, the body is more successful in relaxing when it is time to go to bed, letting your body fall asleep more easily. This also plays into the pain that is brought about by stress. Another way to relax or ease pain that results from muscle tension caused by the “fight or flight” response is by exercising. Simple exercise like walking, going for jog, and strength training is an easy and beneficial alternative to lowering stress.

Show Gratitude

While under a lot of stress, stopping to show gratitude can be crucial. Creating a list of things you are grateful for and why you are grateful for them can be an amazing addition to your week. You may be thinking, “Great, another thing to add to my busy day”. Well just like the self care discussed above, showing gratitude will open your eyes to the bigger picture and proves to be a much needed ‘pause’ during the day. You can either make a list by yourself or get your family together to go over gratitude as a group.

When taking these five suggestions into consideration, we see that the key to stress relief is finding balance. Take a step back, relax, plan ahead, take time for yourself and you will be on track to a stress free holiday.


Nick Hunter, PT, DPT

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