An astounding 69 percent of Americans report feelings of increased stress during the holidays. In fact, the stress level can get so high that 45 percent of people would prefer to skip Christmas and other related holidays altogether. If you are part of either of these statistics, it is wise to start thinking about self-care and how it can help propel you through the next couple of months.
Although it’s true that you may feel more demands on your time right now than usual, this doesn’t make self-care less important. In fact, it’s more vital than ever that you schedule some time for yourself. Here are a few suggestions to help you take better care of yourself during the holidays.
1. Set Aside Small Blocks of Relaxation Time
Right now, you might be thinking that there’s no way you can carve out any alone time until after the holidays. But have you considered how useful a mere 5 to 10 minutes can be? Listening to music you enjoy during this time frame can reduce your stress by as much as 61 percent. Reading is even better because it offers a 68 percent stress reduction in only six minutes. Therefore, short breaks can be very meaningful and provide you with the emotional respite you need.
2. Take Yourself to a Show
Is your favorite band coming to town? Or perhaps there’s a musical you’ve always wanted to see? Now is the perfect time to treat yourself! You’ll only need to devote a few hours to this form of escapism, but the benefits can last for days. Off-Broadway tours have become increasingly common, which has led to this industry having its highest grossing season ever. Broadway shows are certainly more expensive than doing something commonplace such as going to the movies, but the overall experience of dressing up, going to the theater and becoming lost in the show will be well worth it.
3. Spend an Evening Coloring
Adult coloring has been a huge hit for more than a year now, and there’s a good reason for this; coloring helps people de-stress. There is also evidence that adults who color are able to develop more mindfulness and increase their ability to focus. The best part is that there are thousands of adult coloring books available about virtually every topic imaginable. Whether you want to color cats, scenes from Harry Potter or something related to any specific holiday, you’ll be able to find an applicable book.
4. Don’t Rely on Alcohol
It’s well-known that many people turn to alcohol to help them get through the holiday season. On the surface, this might even seem like a good idea. But the reality is that alcohol is a depressant, so having more than a glass of wine or one beer could actually make it much harder for you to cope with holiday stress. Take proper care of yourself by avoiding alcohol so that you don’t end up with the holiday blues.
5. Sleep, Exercise and Proper Nutrition Are Key
Exercising for 30 minutes a day is a great way to reduce your stress and improve your ability to sleep. Stress often makes it difficult to sleep, so it’s easy to see how exercising can benefit you in multiple ways. This is especially true when you consider the fact that a lack of sleep will affect your mood, memory and judgement skills. Proper nutrition has a positive effect on your mood, and it can make it easier to deal with the physical demands of the holiday season.
6. Get a Massage
Massages are known as great stress relievers, and they can also reduce or eliminate tension headaches. In most cases, a massage lasts 60 minutes, which provides you with a safe haven from all of the stress and worries of preparing for the holidays. Many people become so relaxed during a massage that they fall asleep, and deep tissue work will release your tense muscles. This is definitely a good way to give yourself some self-care because no one will be able to contact you or bother you during your one hour session.
7. Use Something Cold to Boost Your Mood
Believe it or not, taking a cold shower has been proven to reinvigorate people, and it also has a positive impact on mood and stress levels. Of course, many people don’t want to get through the initial shock of being in freezing cold water. The good news is that you don’t have to go that far to get relief from stress. Instead, simply take a rice bag or wrap that you would usually heat up for pain relief and put it in the freezer instead. When you begin to feel stressed out, wrap the bag around the back of your neck. This provides a quick soothing effect that can help you instantly de-stress.
8. Don’t Say Yes to Everything
Are you dreading going to multiple holiday functions? Although you probably feel like you have no choice, the truth is that you can decide to say no to some things. If you want, you could even say no to everything. Ultimately, your mental health is worth much more than forcing yourself to say yes to everything simply because it’s the holiday season. Choose carefully where you want to expend your emotional, mental and physical energy. Perhaps this means going to Thanksgiving dinner but skipping a Christmas gathering. The most important thing is to avoid becoming burned out or extremely stressed because you’re overburdened with commitments.
9. Take a Long Weekend for Yourself
Even if you choose to attend every possible holiday function and put your own needs on the back burner for a couple of months, you can still bring your stress level back down by giving yourself a long weekend after the holidays are over. Your weekend could be spent doing anything from watching movies in your pajamas for three days to booking a remote cabin in the woods. Either way, allowing yourself to have some personal time and space will help you start off 2017 on the right foot.
There are many additional simple ways to reduce stress, ranging from taking a walk in the woods to shutting off your smartphone for an hour. The most important thing is for you to be aware that these methods can be very beneficial self-care techniques that will help you get through the holidays. Be sure to start putting your preferred methods in place right now to prevent your stress level from elevating unnecessarily.
Featured photo credit: martinak15 via flic.kr