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Stress Management over the Holidays

By: Dr. Cynthia Mangla, DC, CCSP

As we move into the holiday season, we have so much to look forward to including time with family and friends, holiday parties, and delicious food. Along with this, many of us will also begin to feel a spike in our stress levels. Here are some stress management ideas to keep in mind as we get ready for the upcoming holidays:

Plan Ahead

Time moves quickly around the holidays. Think ahead and take time to plan for the next month or so. Write down lists and use planners to create a schedule. Set a little time each day to prepare for gift buying, hosting parties and meal preparation.

Set a Budget

And stick to it! Determine your budget ahead of time for gift, meals, and plan for ways to work within this limit. Instead of aiming for the ideal, be realistic in what you will be able to manage. For example, plan a family gift exchange instead of buying individual gifts for everyone. If you are hosting, ask for others to bring certain items and be in charge of only a couple of items yourself.

Maintain your Healthy Habits

Most of us use the holidays to be more lenient in our healthy eating habits. That’s ok! However, try to maintain other healthy habits.

  • Maintain a regular sleep schedule. Sleep is key in reducing the physical effects of stress on our bodies, however it will also help you stay productive and less stressed overall.
  • Continue to exercise. Even if you have to modify your activities, incorporate some form of physical activity each day.
  • Try and continue eating healthy in between festivities, this will allow you to lower any guilt from overindulgences.

Adaptogenic Herbs

Increased or chronic stress levels can lead to a spike in your stress hormone, cortisol. As our cortisol levels increase, it can negatively impact the physiological processes within our body. Adaptogenic herbs can help to balance cortisol levels and fight off physical effects of stress. These include Ashwaganda, Holy Basil, Ginseng and Rhodiola (Consult your healthcare provider prior to beginning any new supplements).

Take Time for Yourself

Be honest with yourself. If you are beginning to notice that you are overwhelmed or stressed, set time aside to take care of yourself and do activities that you enjoy.

  • Yoga
  • Take a relaxing bath
  • Read a book
  • Take a long walk
  • Get a massage
  • Listen to relaxing music

Relax your Mind/Body

Prior to the holidays, plan to incorporate new activities into your routine that involve relaxing your mind.

  • Journal – spend 10-15 minutes each night to reflect on your day. Writing out your emotions can help to reduce your frustration. Writing about gratitude can also help to shift your mind-set before you get ready for the next day.
  • Meditate – take time every morning, or when you are feeling extra stressed to sit and meditate. This will help you focus on breathing, which is a helpful stress-reduction tool. Focus on things that calm you to help you feel less stress in the present moment.
  • Talk – whether you have a close friend or a counselor, take time to talk about your feelings. This will prevent your stress from building up within the body.

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