For many people, the holidays mean an abundance of festive get-togethers with family and friends. It’s a time to celebrate life, share, and enjoy delicious food. But despite our best intentions, the holidays can also be stressful when you have to balance work and family commitments with holiday gatherings, hosting parties, guests, and purchasing gifts.
To alleviate tension and avoid overwhelm, here are fifteen actionable tips to help you de-stress, stay centered, and enjoy time with family and friends.
Cleanse—first thing in the morning squeeze one organic lemon or lime into a coffee mug. Fill the rest of the way with boiling water. Optional—add one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar. Drink at least ten minutes before eating anything. This yogini practice improves digestion, boosts energy, is a mood lifter, body detoxifier, and helps trim excess fat.
Unplug—turn off electronic gadgets an hour before bedtime, and you’ll enjoy a better night’s sleep. It’s important to get plenty of rest so you don’t miss out on the holiday fun.
Say No—oftentimes we feel like we can’t say no, but you’ll lower your stress by not saying yes all of the time. For example, instead of being a charming host or hostess, bring a thoughtful hostess gift and be a delightful guest instead.
Stretch—carve six minutes out of your schedule to stretch. “Child’s Pose” is a gentle choice. It provides a pleasant way to reconnect with your breath as it stretches the low back, massages and tones the abdominal organs, and stimulates digestion and elimination. Here’s how it’s done:
- Lower yourself onto your hands and knees onto a bath towel or yoga mat on the floor.
- Sitting back on your heels, spread your knees in a wide v-shape, keeping the tops of your feet on the floor with your big toes touching.
- Lean forward so your belly rests between the wide v-shape of your thighs, turn your head to one side and rest your cheek on the towel or mat.
- Stretch your arms in front of you palms down.
- After three minutes, turn your head and switch to the other cheek; reposition your arms back alongside your thighs, palms facing up.
- Remain in this position for three more minutes.
- Option: Lean forward on a bolster (or rolled up blanket) so you can comfortably hold the position longer—you may even fall asleep. This is known as Supported Child’s Pose.
Scent—the scent of something pleasant helps to soothe, relax, and de-stress. Here’s a quick and easy recipe: boil two cups of water on the stove top, add a sliced lemon or lime, two or three sprigs of fresh rosemary, and two teaspoons of vanilla extract (for a stronger scent, muddle the citrus and rosemary before adding it to the boiling water). Turn down the burner and let it simmer. Set a timer and check the water level every thirty minutes. Your home will smell warm and inviting as it helps you unwind.
Moderation—enjoy a few small portions of anything you like. Take a bite, set your fork down and chew slowly and thoroughly. After you swallow, take a deep breath. Pause between each bite to savor the taste. This mindful practice will help you to avoid overindulgence, yet not feel restricted.
Bathe—fill your bathtub with hot water and your favorite bubbles, bath oil, or salts, then throw your anxiety under the bus while you lean back and relax in a steamy getaway. You’ll be amazed at the positive difference in your state of mind.
Breathe—Set aside three minutes to focus on your breath. Inhale deeply through your nostrils and mentally say, “I breathe in calm.” Exhale deeply through your mouth and mentally say, “I let go of expectations.” This simple breathwork exercise will help you cope with challenges that come your way.
Effervescence—if you attend holiday parties, consider adding club soda to your wine as a spritzer. This way you can continue to socialize, not overindulge, and you’ll feel merry and bright in the morning.
Music—listening to music you enjoy goes a long way to boost the cheer factor. It can also reduce your stress level, lower blood pressure, and heart rate. Once you create a playlist, enjoy a cup of hot tea while you wrap a couple of gifts.
Vent—a healthy method to express frustration or extreme emotion is to scream into a pillow or punch your mattress. Effective, it allows you to express troublesome emotions without disturbing other people.
Mono-task—and while multi-tasking is often encouraged in the workplace (strange because productivity goes down by as much as forty percent when we multitask), mono or uni-tasking reaps tremendous benefits including increased concentration, significant progress, more patience, and feeling less rushed. Doing one thing at a time leads to present-moment enjoyment.
Ta-Dah!—scratch the “to do” list and replace it with a “ta-dah” list. A slight shift in perspective about the things that need to get done makes a positive difference in one’s outlook. Every time you place a checkmark by a completed task, enjoy an endorphin boost by exclaiming “Ta-dah!”
Me time—carve out uninterrupted time for yourself. I place a small sign on my office door that says, “There better be blood, flood, or fire.” This lets my family know that I’m currently not accessible. A twenty-minute power nap does wonders to lower stress hormone levels. Reading a chapter in your current book promotes peace and wellbeing. A few yoga poses will boost your vim and vigor. A brisk walk around the block will sweep the cobwebs from your mind.
Gratitude—an “attitude of gratitude” goes a long way toward uplifting spirits. You can practice it anytime, anywhere. For example, if you’re stuck in traffic or a long shopping line, tell yourself “I’m thankful for this opportunity to stop and reflect.”
The holidays are a time to celebrate with your family and friends. Implementing these tips will help support an optimistic outlook and keep you centered throughout the holiday madness.