TIPS TO DIMINISH HOLIDAY STRESS
I must admit that the “big kid” in me absolutely loves the excitement that the festive Christmas season brings.
However, now that the excitement and rush of the holiday season is over, I could use a day or two to just wind down and incorporate a bit of self-care to rejuvenate my body and mind, even if I have to force myself to do so. Do you feel like that sometimes, too?
I don’t know about you, but after a couple of weeks of hanging beautiful lights, putting up colorful decorations, shopping for gifts, attending Christmas parties, preparing elaborate meals and breaking bread with many loved ones (whew!), it can be a bit challenging to calm your mind down and go into ‘tranquil’ mode.
However, I do have a few ways to help me de-stress and relax after the holiday season. Perhaps these tips will also help you feel better and cope better with holiday anxiety.
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1. CREATE A SPA-AT-HOME DAY
For years, my main way to de-stress was to go to a beautiful spa and get a full-body massage. However, given the Covid climate that we have been in for the last 2-plus years, my new favorite self-care and relaxation pastime is taking a warm, soothing detox bath. It is inexpensive and something that you can do in the comfort of your own bathroom.
All you need is a bag of Epsom salts and a few drops of essential oils (optional). I enjoy the aroma of either lavender or chamomile pure essential oil. They both have sedative effects on the nervous system, so they increase your ability to relax and help to make your bath time more pleasant.
Tip: Epsom salts are highly effective at helping your body to secrete toxins through the pores of your skin (1). Therefore, it is a good idea to rinse off in the shower after your detox bath so that you can rinse off any toxins that the Epsom salts helped to pull out through your skin.
Don’t forget to apply a rich moisturizer to your body to replace the oils that were lost through taking your warm detox bath. For me, organic, extra virgin olive oil makes a very effective post-detox bath skin conditioner. Be sure to apply the oil to your skin while it is still wet. Then, simply blot the water beads from your skin with a soft drying towel and let your skin absorb the remainder of the oil. This envelopes your skin in intense moisture that lasts all day!
2. CLEAN UP YOUR DIET
Now, this next suggestion may not sound like a relaxation tactic, but it is an important self-care topic. This tip involves adding more fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet to help counter some of the weight gain you may have experienced, due to over-indulging in holiday delectables.
I admit it! I certainly enjoyed my fair share of cookies, cakes, and candy through mindless grazing. Now it is time for me to clean up my act and get back on (the healthy) track!
So, I put together a “clean eating” grocery list of some of my favorite crunchy veggies and fruits such as organic mini carrots, organic apples, organic red bell peppers, and organic cucumbers.
This way, when I get the urge for a crunchy snack, I can munch on one of these healthy foods vs. reaching for a sugar-laden cookie or some other junk food.
Processed sugar has a dehydrating and stress-inducing effect on the body (2).
When you avoid sugar, not only is it better for your physical body, but you also feel better mentally because you’re conscious of doing something that will enhance your health. Everyone gets a boost on confidence when they know they are using their will power to better themselves.
Now, do I still get cravings for comfort foods? Absolutely! However, the best way for me to win at eating healthy is simply to NOT buy foods that add no nutritional value to my body. If unhealthy snacks are not in my house, then it’s easier for me to avoid consuming them.
3. RESUME OR START AN EXERCISE REGIMEN
The post-holiday season is a great time to commit to shedding those ‘holiday pounds’ you may have gained. Plus, January introduces a new year and is a time for new beginnings.
Why not start, or resume, a regular exercise routine? Working out is a great way to not only tone up your body, but also to improve your mental clarity (3).
When you exercise and sweat out toxins, you get double the benefits with a healthier body and a healthier outlook on life. You simply feel better when you know that you are participating in an activity that improves your well-being, especially when you start seeing the results of your labor with a smaller waistline and firmer muscle mass.
If you are still concerned about working out at a gym due to Covid, why not turn your living room, spare bedroom, or your basement into a workout area?
Purchase a pair of 5- or 10-pound free weights to use for toning your arms. You can also opt for resistance bands to help strengthen and tone your arms. To get a cardio workout in, there are many streaming services that you can either subscribe to or watch for free….at home. There are plenty options to choose from to motivate ourselves to get moving and incorporate more fitness into our lives.
4. TRY COLORING PAGES
Granted, holidays have become so commercialized that they can negatively affect one’s mental health. However, you really do have control over how well you can manage holiday stress. An easy and impactful way that I decided to implement is (wait for it!)…coloring pages!
I must admit that when I first heard about the growing number of people who took to coloring as a way to wind down, I was a bit skeptical. However, after trying this pastime for myself, I quickly realized that it is a wonderful and creative way to quell moments of anxiety and stress.
When you couple your coloring moments with deep breathing sessions, you double the benefits for your body and mind.
For starters, coloring helps you to take the focus off the stress of the moment, even if only for a few minutes at a time. As you concentrate on selecting your colors and how you plan to create your masterpiece, your mind is forced to shift its attention to your coloring page and your colorful tools.
Secondly, when you take a series of deep breaths, you oxygenate your body on a deeper level, which in turn helps to relax your muscles and calm your mind.
5. RESUME YOUR REGULAR DAILY SCHEDULE
The Christmas holiday season means longer, busier days due to planning holiday meals, increased shopping days and times, and other holiday activities with family and friends. However, now that the rush is over, you can resume your regular schedule again.
Try to go to bed earlier so that you can be well rested when you wake up each morning to begin each day refreshed. To assist you in getting a good night’s sleep, it may help to use a diffuser in your bedroom and add a few drops of either lavender, petitgrain, or vetiver essential oil to the water. Close the door to your bedroom to create a ‘cocoon’ of serenity to your space and rest well. Also, if possible, try to eat your meals at the same time each day because this will aid you in weight loss vs. sporadic eating times that can lead to mindless grazing.
6. LISTEN TO RELAXING MUSIC
There is an old adage that says, “Music soothes the savage beast.” While I do not consider any of us to be a beast, keeping a hectic holiday schedule for a few weeks can make you feel a bit overwhelmed.
Tuning in to an easy-listening radio station such as smooth jazz or classical music is an easy and convenient way to drift off into relax mode…sometimes within seconds.
If your geographical area does not have a radio station that plays soothing music, it is still available at your fingertips. You can always tune in to a website that streams calming melodies while driving, working around your house, etc.
So, go ahead and set a tranquil atmosphere by brewing yourself a cup of tasty, herbal tea. Turn on your smooth music. Dim the lights. Put on your comfy lounging attire. Grab your favorite fluffy blanket…and don’t forget the fluffy socks!
Then, settle down for a few hours (or a full night) of rest and relaxation. Go ahead! You deserve it! Everything on your “to-do” list will still be there after you’ve had time to decompress, I promise!
By making a few tweaks in your day, you can successfully ease yourself back into a more tranquil way of living after the Christmas holiday season (or any other holiday season).
Hopefully, some of the tips given above will assist you with learning how to deal with holiday stress. Tell me. How do you cope with the holidays?