With the holiday season just around the corner, I think it's a great time to give you some tips for helping you cope with stress which is often exacerbated during the holidays. Remember to keep things in perspective and try not to get too caught up in the hustle and bustle of gift giving and parties that you lose the big picture which is spending time with the ones you love and doing simple things like watching Christmas stories and baking cookies.
When stress lasts too long, it can have an exhausting effect on our bodies, often leading to illness or flu because we let ourselves get run down. So what can we do so that we can handle life's stresses easier? Well, the secret is to play a little offense. Here are some tips to help arm you against stress:
1. Maintain a balanced diet. Many times we are running around trying to make it all work in a day that we forget to eat, or we grab empty calories here and there. Prepare some healthy meals ahead of time and keep them in the fridge so it's available for you to either take along with you, or to whip up quick when you get home by simply reheating it in the microwave.
2. Drink enough fluids. Migraines, urinary tract infections, and various colds can all spring up when we are under stress and dehydrated which often happens while shopping and working late hours. So keep a water bottle with you in the mall and on your desk at work so you can stay hydrated throughout the day.
3. Don't keep your home too warm. Excessive heat dries out your nasal passages and mucus membranes which can lead to coughs and colds. So put on a warm sweater and keep the heat low.
4. Stop what you are doing periodically and just inhale deeply, paying close attention to your breathing and the movement and feel of air in and out of of your nose. Do this little meditation for a few minutes several times a day. It will help calm you and relieve stress. Great when your in traffic too!
5. Exercise! Do not let that fall by the wayside. This is the most important time to exercise. It will help relieve stress and give you more energy to complete all the holiday tasks that seem to pile up out of no where.
6. Go outside each day; even if it's only for 10 minutes. Get outside and walk. Taking in fresh air and getting out of your home or office will help give you perspective and refresh you. Sunshine is also a wonderful mood booster.
7. Have a little chocolate, or pasta. Chocolate, especially dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants which are very healthy for fighting disease, and it's a wonderful serotonin booster for your brain as is pasta (preferably whole grain). So if you need an instant boost, grab a bit of dark chocolate and a handful of nuts, or have a little bowl of pasta with some garlic, basil and olive oil. It's a great snack and mood booster.
8. Spend some time with your pet. A little extra time playing with your dog will go a long way toward destressing and can boost serotonin levels in the brain. Don't have a pet, ask a neighbor or friend if you can walk their dog or offer to stop by when they are out to visit their kitty. Many studies have shown pets can be very therapeutic and wonderful companions.
9. Be sure to get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation can pile up leaving you feeling cranky, emotional, short tempered and negative. Try to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night. If you can't get that much, try to catch up on the weekend with an early night to bed or try to get in a few naps. Even just closing your eyes for 20 minutes while you lie on the couch can do wonders.
10. Limit your intake of alcohol. Very often during the holidays, drinking alcohol can get a bit out of hand. One too many parties can leave you feeling bloated and hungover. Slow down your drinking by sipping it slower and having a seltzer or glass of water in between alcoholic drinks. You will stay hydrated and you won't get drunk because you give your body time to process the alcohol. Set a limit on how many drinks you will have and stick to it. You will avoid slowing down your metabolism and gaining weight. Alcohol is a real diet buster!
11. Finally, at the end of each day I want you to write down 3 things that you were happy about that you did for that day. This is a great way to stay positive and in control of your life. Positive affirmation can be a wonderful mood booster and stress minimizer by focusing your attention on something you did right. We always tend to fret and focus on what we didn't accomplish in a day or what went wrong. This little exercise will focus you on something that you did that was positive and made you happy.
Well, there you have it. That's quite a lot of tips, but stress is a big problem so I want you to be armed! Read this list over frequently during the next few months and I have every confidence that you will find things that will help keep you happier, healthier, and dealing with a little less stress :o) I want to help you enjoy the holidays; not dread them,