6 Ways to Reduce Stress Before the Holidays (that Don’t Involve Exercise or Meditation)


6 Ways to Reduce Stress Before the Holidays that Don’t Involve Exercise or Meditation
iStock/elenaleonova

If this time of year drives you crazy, then you’re going to love these helpful ways to reduce stress and put you on the path to a happier holiday.

You have food to cook, shopping to do, a family that needs you, a career that demands you, presents to wrap, events to attend, and the list could go on and on. However, what’s often not at the top of the roster is how to deal with all of these obligations and reduce your overall stress levels. While we aren’t promising miracles, we do think that these proven methods will bring you some relief.

You probably know by now that exercise and meditation are proven ways to release endorphins and minimize stress, but sometimes when you’re in the thick of things working out and attempting to find your inner yogi can seem more like a curse than a blessing. Rather than having to psych yourself up to partake in sweating it out, we’ve rounded up a few ideas that won’t feel like an extra chore to add to your lengthy holiday to-do list.

Whether you have a few seconds, minutes, or hours, these ways to reduce stress are simple, enjoyable, and can be done before the holidays arrive.

1. Social Media Break

Don’t worry, it’s not forever, but a little break might do you some good. If you’re feeling defeated because Sally has already decorated her tree, prepped for Thanksgiving dinner, and is showing off her umpteenth handmade DIY project (that doesn’t look like it was slapped together by a 5-year-old), then you’re not alone.

According to anxiety.org, social media sites, and the addiction that often accompanies, has a real propensity to cause anxiety, depression, and stress. The “compare-and-despair factor,” as it’s so accurately called, conjures up feelings of self-consciousness and the need for perfectionism. You might be surprised at how much more productive you become, or that you have a few extra minutes to indulge in good book once you ditch the apps.

2. Hug Somebody

When I get stressed the last thing on my mind is taking the time to slow down and appreciate those closest to me. Bad, I know. But, according to Carnegie Mellon researchers, a hug a day can have tremendous health benefits.

Sharing a hug with someone delivers feelings of having greater social support, and thus reduces the risk of infections as a result of stress. The subsequent oxytocin release also promotes feelings of calmness, closeness, and intimacy. All things we could use a little more of during the holidays.

3. Avoid Alcohol

A glass of wine may seem like a good coping mechanism to deal with the curveballs life throws at you, especially during the holidays, but Psych Central discourages this sort of behavior, especially if you have a family history of alcoholism. High levels of stress may affect the quantity and frequency of your drinking, making it likely that you’ll consume much more than intended.

De-stress with teas like chamomile, peppermint, and kava, the last of which has a highly-researched and proven track record of combating anxiety. For additional drink options that will help put the brakes on feelings of stress, check out Natural Living Ideas for more suggestions.

4. Think Happy Thoughts

Don’t know about you, but I’m definitely guilty of stressing myself out. Not only do I live in the future or the past when I should be in the present, but I can get bogged down by negative self-talk in a jiffy. Although thinking happy thoughts may be an older, more widely-known technique for reducing stress, it’s importance never goes out of style.

Sometimes it’s easy to think up a happy thought on the fly, while other times our minds are so entrenched in the muddied patterns of negativity, that we couldn’t conjure up a cheerful sentiment if we tried. Luckily, Tiny Buddha has 20 thoughts that will help relieve depression and anxiety for when you just can’t even.

5. Nix the Politics

According to The Washington Post, “Americans cited ‘hearing about what the government or politicians are doing’ as the most frequent daily stressor on their lives.” Now that the election is over, magnify that by a thousand. Talking politics is treading on shaky ground, so we suggest avoiding it all together this holiday season.

While it’s important to exercise our First Amendment right, sometimes it’s okay to skip the political banter in favor of something more lighthearted. The last thing we need around the holidays is contention, and while you can’t guarantee that all of your relatives will follow suit, you can set the tone for your gathering by asking guests to refrain from discussing politics. And if they just can’t help themselves, then have a few ideas on hand to interject with and change the subject.

6. Get Lost

Whether it’s in a book, in the woods, while watching a funny movie, or conquering that craft project, the bottom line is: focus on something that brings you joy and less on the things that are causing your stress. Next to doing nothing and letting your mind recharge, getting lost in the process and letting your cares melt away is a great de-stressor. Even if it is only a temporary escape, it’s certainly a healthy one.

What do you think about our ways to reduce stress? Share your thoughts with us on the EcoSalon Facebook page!

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Jamie Duncan