From house guests and holiday cards to office parties and year-end reports, holiday stress is real. If you’re not careful, it can catch up with you quickly. The following natural stress relief techniques can help you manage your stress before it spirals out of control so you can enjoy the season.
9 Natural Stress Relief Techniques to Make This Holiday Season Your Best Yet
1. Make Sleep a TOP Priority
In all likelihood, you’ve experienced the ill effects of a sleepless night. The irritability and foul mood from which you’re suffering aren’t just bad luck. Science shows sleep deprivation can induce stress, reduce impulse control, increase weight gain, and diminish your immune system’s ability to ward off illness.
The first controlled sleep study was published in 1999 by Eve Van Cauter at the University of Chicago in Illinois. It revealed when sleep was restricted to four hours a night over the course of six, consecutive nights that the body’s ability to metabolize sugar fell by one third.
At the University of Pennsylvania, comprehensive sleep studies have revealed those who sleep only 4 to 6 hours of sleep over 14 consecutive nights suffered impaired alertness and cognitive performance. Additionally, studies have revealed that sleep deprivation can negatively impact the immune system, increasing pain and inflammation throughout the body.
With so many activities throughout the holidays, we all have a tendency to burn the candle at both ends. DON’T! Resist the urge.
One of the best ways to ways to deal with holiday stress is to make a full night’s rest a priority, even if it means going home from your cocktail party a little early. In the long run, getting stressed or sick will make you miss a lot more moments with friends and loved ones.
2. Take Breaks to be Calm and Centered
When stress starts to build it can spiral quickly. Suddenly the small issue of ‘will there be enough mashed sweet potatoes’ can become a full-blown panic attack about ‘does my mother-in-law even like me’.
As you start to feel stress, step away for a moment to calm down. Even just excusing yourself to go to the bathroom can give you the break you need to refortify.
Close your eyes. Take several deep breaths, focusing on the simple act of breathing in and exhaling. You could also imagine yourself in a beautiful place, relive a happy memory or focus on a goal you want to achieve. This stress relief technique can help you tackle problems quickly and efficiently so you can enjoy your time with loved ones.
3. Stick to Real, Whole Foods
During the holidays, we’re surrounded by food. From cookies and pastries to pot pies and roasted birds smothered in gravy – there are temptations everywhere. Unfortunately, many of these treats will weigh you down, make you feel sluggish, and diminish your immune system’s ability to operate.
As you try and keep holiday stress to a minimum, give yourself a leg up by fuel your body with the nutrients it needs. Rather than make food another stress point, just follow the simple principle of real, whole foods.
4. Get Your Body Moving
Exercise is a natural stress reliever. Research shows physical activity offers a wide variety of benefits, including:
- Increases endorphins helping you feel happier and more alert
- Improves your self-confidence
- Reduces tension
- Boosts immune system
- Stimulates metabolism
But remember, exercise don’t have to be the ‘dreaded gym workout.’ The key is to find something you enjoy (or don’t hate) and stick with it. Make a weekly date with a friend to walk. Go snowshoeing with your family. Join a cycle class or yoga class. All of these activities will get your body moving and help you reduce holiday stress.
5. Practice Moderation
While the ‘real, whole food’ principle will hold you in good stead, it’s the holidays. Chances are good you’re going to have some turkey, stuffing, and a cocktail (or two).
The key is to not “fall off the wagon.” By practicing moderation, you can savor without paying too steep a price. Here are a few tips to keep yourself in check:
- Eat your salad first. Loading up on greens before you get to the carbs can help you avoid overeating.
- Use the one-for-one principle. If you’re going to have a cocktail, make sure you pair it with a glass of water.
- Splurge on really good fruit. See raspberries that look amazing? Find a pineapple that’s to die for? Treating yourself to these ‘sweets’ can help you avoid digging into the pumpkin pie.
You know there’s a big dinner coming up? Get your body ready. Overload your diet with antioxidant rich foods. Try to incorporate pomegranate seeds, oranges, and satsumas into your diet for a big boost of Vitamin C. Look to kale and spinach for a large boost of iron. Avocado offers Omega 3s – a healthy source of fat.
Pickled and fermented foods (like sauerkraut and kimchi) are also good to incorporate in your pre-tox, as they give a boost to your gut’s health.
7. Let Yourself Laugh
Laughter is great for your health. And that’s no joke. Researchers at Loma Linda Unversity found that you can “Lower your stress levels by laughing more.” They also reported that “when we laugh, the stress hormone, cortisol, decreases and thus, our short-term memory will improve.”
Long story short, don’t stray away from the things that make you laugh. Check out new jokes. (Reader’s Digest has a fabulous, family-friendly list.) Watch a few comedies. (Hello, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.) Play games with your family. Have a tickle war with your kiddos. Do what makes you laugh.
It’s a 21st Century problem, to be sure. But, being plugged in all the time keeps you and your brain constantly going-going-going. Suddenly, you’re managing stress at work and your managing stress at home and you trying to do it all at the same time and IT IS EXHAUSTING!
When you’re managing stress and trying to calm down, turn off your devices. Even if it’s just for an hour or two, walk away from the digital world. Focus on what’s right in front of you. Engage with your friends and family. Read a book. Cook dinner without looking at your phone.
9. Give Your Immune System a Boost with Vitamin IV Drip
Nothing makes managing stress and anxiety more stressful than getting sick. To make sure your holiday health is as healthy as can be, make sure your immune system is ready to fight off anything that comes its way.
Even the most efficient digestive systems have trouble getting enough of the key vitamins and minerals your body needs. Vitamin IV drip therapy delivers a concentrated dose of nutrients minerals directly into your bloodstream. This can help:
- Curb your appetite
- Improve your impulse control
- Reduce your holiday stress
- Boost your mood
- Improve sleep quality
- Improve complexion
- Ward off a cold and flu
Get Help Managing Your Stress
Need some help managing your stress throughout the holidays? Our naturopathic doctors can provide the guidance needed to create a holistic diet that works for you, create an IV drip cocktail specifically for your needs, and more. Schedule a consultation today.
Have you found success managing your stress this fall? Let us know in the comments below.
Additional Natural Health Tips
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Naturopathic health care with compassionate integrative doctors who understand your unique medical needs.