Guest Post by: Stephanie Valentine
The Holiday season is in full swing!
It's easy to get swept up by the hustle and bustle from the pressures of holiday parties, gift buying, budgeting, possible family stress. Don’t fret – here are 6 tips to reduce that stress and help you have a great time. Don’t just survive the season – Rejoice in it!
Remember your exercise routine
The benefits of exercise are many! With holiday parties and late nights it can be easy to let this routine fall off. Don’t let it! The stress that comes with this time of year can be seriously reduced by remembering to exercise. Any form of exercise – from aerobics to yoga – they all have the stress relieving benefit. Exercise increases your body’s production of endorphins (your feel-good neurotransmitters), improves your sleep, improves your self-confidence and has been scientifically proven to lower the symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety. Keep moving!
Try not to get caught up with ‘Keeping up with the Jones’ (or Kardashians) – it’s all about where you focus your attention. There will always be someone with more than you – there also is always someone with less. Take some time to be thankful for what you do have - loved ones, your health, freedom. Psychology Today states that gratitude not only can be deliberately cultivated but can increase levels of well-being and happiness and that expression of this gratitude to others is associated with increased levels of energy, optimism and empathy. So when you are putting together your gift list – add Thank You notes to that list. Maybe write up some extra ones this year to people who may not normally expect it – a receptionist who gets you that appointment, the delivery person or mail carrier who is rarely thanked, a bus driver who you regularly see, the school nurse or crossing guard. This gift will give back!
Get your Zzzs
You may be thinking that I keep harping on sleep – for good reason! It’s free (although time can be money, but that’s another story) and its benefits are so wide reaching that I can’t leave it out of this holiday survival list. Sleep boosts your immune system – helps fight the flu and colds. A good night’s sleep can increase the benefits of exercise and your healthy diet. Sleep has been proven to be instrumental in appetite control and weight management. For the days that you can – keep a good sleep routine, get your 7-8 hours, grab a nap if you can – you will feel so much better – like you can handle anything your day throws at you - from an extra deadline to an uncomfortable family get-together. You'll be more equipped to face things calm cool and collected!
Get your Vitamin C!
We’ve all heard about our adrenal glands – these are the glands in our bodies that produce adrenaline and more importantly cortisol– the stress hormone. Cortisol is the hormone that triggers our ‘fight or flight’ response to stress. Long term increased levels of cortisol can exhaust the body’s physical resources. This gland relies on many nutrients to function normally, but the most important of them is Vitamin C! Vitamin C may not make your overbearing boss or annoying relative disappear, but it may help reduce the effect of the stress that they produce will have on your body – a German study found that vitamin C should be considered an essential part of stress management as it reduces elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol and high blood pressure significantly in those who took 1,000mg vitamin C supplement. Humans cannot produce their own Vitamin C, so it must be consumed. Excellent food sources of Vitamin C include broccoli, bell peppers, parsley, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, lemon juice, strawberries, kale, oranges, pineapple, tomatoes, green beans, spinach and winter squash.
Dont overbook yourself
The end of year deadlines, social and business engagements, parties, family responsibilities may be unavoidable, but you can try to employ this little trick of mine to prevent from literally running yourself ragged – schedule some time for yourself every day! Instead of booking your meetings and appointment back to back, put some buffer time in between – this really reduces the stress of your day. That relaxed state of mind will actually make you more productive than by squeezing in that extra meeting. Open up your month of December calendar and schedule in some time for yourself. It doesn’t need to be as extravagant as a day at the spa (although that does sound heavenly) just make sure that you have a couple of hours each week that are ‘open’. Either an evening each week that you make a date with the TV, or a couple of hours in the afternoon (if you don’t have a full time job) once a week that you book off. An article in Psychology Today describes the many benefits of solitude: how taking time for yourself gives your brain a chance to reboot, improves concentration, increases productivity and gives you a better sense of balance. What a gift to yourself!
Eat your Whole Foods
We all know the benefits of a diet full of Whole Foods! Don’t throw all of your diet guidelines to the sidelines because you have some parties or business engagements that you will not be in control of the food. The holiday season spans at least a month. You can seriously minimize the effects of the holiday parties by maintaining your healthy lifestyle and diet in between the parties. If you think about it by a percentage basis, you are in control of a much greater percentage of meals than you are not. Don't decide to throw away all of your good eating habits and plan on 'getting back on the wagon' in the New Year. This way you will enter the new year still feeling and looking like yourself – glowing from the inside out!
Incorporate these tips into your holiday season - you will enjoy it so much more! You will have a much greater sense of calm and happiness throughout what can be difficult times. Take control of your Happiness!
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