Unfortunately, these added responsibilities can cause feelings of stress, frustration and anxiety. In addition, the increased time spent with family members can cause additional strain for some. Stress management is an essential element of self-care, and can go a long way toward a healthy lifestyle.
Forty-two percent of adults say they are not doing, or are not sure they are doing, enough to manage their stress. Another 20 percent say they never engage in an activity to help relieve or manage their stress, according to the American Psychological Association.
Here are four tips to help you manage stress amidst the hustle and bustle of the holidays.
- Saying No
When added holiday obligations start to feel overwhelming, it is important to evaluate your to-do list. Having a long list of “to-do’s” is one of the top causes of stress for adults in the United States. To keep from overextending yourself, it’s important to remember that it’s okay to say no.
Make sure to carve out time for yourself to do the things that make you feel relaxed and happy during this period, whether that’s going to an exercise class, spending time with your children or just resting. Keep self-care as a priority on your list, even though it may feel like you’re disappointing someone if you can’t take on a task or make an event. Know your limits and only take on what you have time for.
This will allow you to devote more time and energy to both your loved ones and yourself.
- Take a Break
Stress may weigh particularly heavily when you feel like there is outward pressure to finish a task — whether it’s family expectations, a social obligation or a work deadline. If you can’t say no to the stressor, remember that it’s okay to take yourself out of the situation, even if it’s just for a momentary breather. Set down the shopping list, leave the party or walk away from those dirty dishes for a few minutes.
Meditation can be a great way to re-center and regain perspective when things feel overwhelming. For something more active, go for a walk, do some light stretching, or if you’d prefer just a mental break, maybe read a book or talk to a friend. Whatever you do, make sure that it gives you the chance to decompress so that you can go back to the situation with renewed energy and fresh perspective.
- Check in with Your Body
While stress may only feel like a mental strain, it can cause adverse physical health risks as well. From high blood pressure to chronic back pain, stress can come with a whole slew of unpredictable symptoms. If you’re feeling stressed, do a quick check-in with your body. Are you sore? Tired? Hungry?
Eating healthy and getting a good night’s sleep are often the keys to long-term stress management.
If that doesn’t do the trick, it might be worthwhile to incorporate some holistic health components into your schedule, especially during the holidays. Massage is a technique used to relieve tension in tight muscles and it can help with neck and back pain, migraines and headaches. Acupuncture, on the other hand, helps increase energy flow throughout your body. Acupuncture can relieve pain, improve sleep and digestion and reduce anxiety.
When your body is well-rested and refueled, it’s much easier to face holiday chaos with positivity and open-mindedness.
- Get Involved
Volunteering in your community can be a restorative, mindful way to manage stress. Luckily, the holiday season provides ample opportunity to do some good. Research shows that volunteering can positively benefit both your mental and physical health. Volunteering often provides people with a sense of productivity and gratitude, both of which are integral to managing stress. Furthermore, the Corporation for National and Community Service found that offering support to others has more noticeable long-term health benefits than receiving support yourself. Take a breather from holiday stress and help make the holiday season a little brighter for those less-fortunate.
While holiday stress is sometimes unavoidable, learning how to manage it is valuable, important, and differs for every person. Figuring out the stress relief techniques that work for you goes a long way toward making happy holiday memories that will last forever.