Posted on Dec 22, 2023, 7 p.m.
It’s surprisingly easy for the holidays to add to your stress level, and it can get to you when you least expect it. All the pressure to find that perfect gift, it’s the busiest time of year to travel, drive, or shop, the extra family get-togethers that involve dealing with relatives you may not know that well and might not want to be around, it just all adds up. You may not even realize just how much holiday stress has been weighing on you. Not to worry most times you can do simple things to ease up on some of that stress.
If you used to look forward to the holidays but you are now finding that you can’t seem to get interested enough to engage, you may be experiencing holiday stress. Try to take a step back to give yourself some needed time and space to practice some self-care. Don’t feel bad if you need to stay home and miss a party or two now and then, you don’t need to or owe it to anyone to always attend everything, it is perfectly ok to say no and stay home.
Tension has a way of building up in the body without us even realizing it. Quite often that tension crawls all the way through your spine and gives you headaches, this can be a sign of anxiety. Jaw clenching is a condition in which a person clenches or grinds their teeth which results in jaw pain, this can also be a sign of anxiety. Being mindful, doing some stretching, and practicing yoga can go a long way to helping combat that tension.
Sudden changes in your sleep pattern could be an indicator that you are more stressed than normal. Whether you are experiencing difficulty falling to sleep, having nightmares, or staying asleep, sleep can prove to be especially difficult to come by during the holidays. Try to avoid caffeine in the evening, and turn off your electronic devices at least an hour before bedtime. Maybe a mug of your favorite herbal tea might help you unwind, and a hot bath in lavender oil might help you fall to slumber off to snooze town faster.
The holidays are said to be the loneliest time of year, and it is common to have feelings of loneliness during it as everyone seems to be highlighting the perks of theirs everywhere you look. Practice mindfulness by being kind to yourself and resisting the urge to compare your life with others, instead try to focus on the good things in your own life. Take some time to reach out to your family and friends who support you, and remember that just like everything else this holiday season will pass.
Some people are habitually late, even when they make their best efforts to be on time. If you are generally a prompt, punctual person and find yourself dragging your feet around, it may be a sign that you are stressed. Set your alarm a bit earlier than normal, and give yourself more time to get ready before having to go anywhere. Try not to overschedule yourself and overdo it, it’s perfectly ok to say no, even during the holiday season.
Pacing, being unable to sit still, nervous tapping, and fidgeting with pretty much anything you can get your hands on are all common signs of stress. Try doing short breathing exercises to help calm your mind, meditation might even help. Going for a walk outside may even help to ease that sense of restlessness and ease your mind. Listening to your favorite music might even help to snap you out of that funk into a better mindset.
Unexpected acne starting to appear out of nowhere for what seems to be no reason could also be due to stress. It’s important to take extra care of your skin during times of high stress and try to refrain from picking at those blemishes. Don’t forget to stay hydrated, this will help your body eliminate toxins, and improve skin elasticity which can help to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, as well as help to control the production of oil reducing the likelihood of breakouts.
Fun fact, stressed spelled backward is desserts. Our bodies crave carbohydrates and sugar when we become stressed. Instead of giving in and indulging in the big bad bag of sweets, try eating a handful of nuts or fresh fruit, which will help curb your cravings and help settle your stress in another more healthful way. You don’t have to completely avoid sweets and tasty treats, just be mindful of what and how much you are eating, and keep it in moderation.
It is not uncommon for people to feel stress in their digestive system, some people even refer to their gut as their second brain. Resist that almost overpowering urge to binge on food and drink that you know is bad for you or might make your tummy upset. It might even be a good idea to fortify your digestive tract during this stressful period of time by eating probiotic foods.
Being an over-perfectionist and trying to control everything can also be seen as a sign of stress. Being a perfectionist may be triggered by the feeling of not being good enough, and sometimes dealing with our families can be the biggest precursor for this mindset. Accept family and friends as they are, and remember that no one has to live up to anyone’s expectations but their own, including yourself. Set aside grievances for another more appropriate time. When you find yourself being too hard on yourself, try to stop and remember something that you are good at or being, focus on your positive qualities, and don’t worry about not being perfect, no one is.
If you are stressed it might be best to try to avoid alcohol which is a stimulant, even in small quantities but turns into a depressant in larger amounts. Nicotine and caffeine are also stimulants that can make even the calmest person jittery.
Stick to your budget, remember you can’t buy love or happiness. Homemade gifts can be more appreciated than store-bought as they are personal and made from the heart. Remain realistic in your expectations, nothing is perfect, nor does it have to be.
Getting some exercise can help to provide your body with a boost of feel-good endorphins. Keep up your healthy habits. YouTube is full of free guided meditation videos to follow that are fairly easy and might help clear your mind.
Try writing things down, perhaps in a gratitude journal of sorts. This could be as simple as writing down a few positive things that make you happy or that you are grateful for, and this may help you pass this stressful time.
Try not to let your stress levels build and become out of control. Talk to someone for support, perhaps even talk about good times, and share a few laughs, laughing is good for your mind and may help you to relieve some stress. You can beat these bah-humbug blues.
However, if you happen to find yourself overwhelmed and struggling to cope, or the symptoms of your stress/anxiety won't go away, no matter what you try, or you can’t manage your emotions, it may be time to consider talking to a professional.
As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
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T.W at WHN