During the holiday season, we can allow many situations and circumstances to create extra stress in our lives. During the next few weeks, I will share some ways to reduce the stress of the season.
First, a list of things to do:
- Soothe with food: Eat several mini-meals between meals of natural carbohydrates. They elevate mood-regulating brain chemical, serotonin, which exerts a calming effect on the entire body.
- Ask three questions: Is this important? Is my reaction appropriate? Is this situation changeable? Take action to change it.
- Exercise: Physical activity reduces anxiety and depression. Aerobic exercise is best but choose and exercise that you enjoy.
- Check your perspective: Do only the tasks that would have serious consequences if left undone. Will you die if you don’t do the laundry?
- Skip some routine chores: Take at least a half-hour daily to do something you enjoy to recharge yourself.
- Take a mini-breather: Belly breathe throughout the day periodically. It keeps oxygen going to your brain and slows you down in anxious moments.
- Look at the light side: A good laugh relaxes muscles, lowers blood pressure and suppresses stress-related hormones.
- Reduce caffeine: Caffeine is a stimulant that runs up the nervous system and makes you more susceptible to stress. A good replacement is green tea.
- Take a time out: An overloaded schedule causes anxiety. Schedule a half hour of nothing in a workday. If emergencies or calls come in, you have extra time.
- Say a little prayer: Prayer reduces stress hormones and balances emotions. It gives you inner calm and can help “heal thyself.”
- Make a list of likes and dislikes: List as a family what parts of the holiday each likes and dislikes. Eliminate as many dislikes as possible.
- Shop year round: Buy gifts throughout the year rather than wait until the last minute. Start baking and cooking earlier for those items that will stay fresh.