Holiday Stress Management: 4 Tips

Because the year is long and memories are short, and we have a bunch of new folks this year, here is a reprint with last year’s holiday stress management tips!

Here are four simple tips you can start applying right now. These tips will help you rein in some of the stress and craziness and leave you healthier and more able to appreciate the joy of the season.

1. Easy stress-buster: Breathe. Seriously — don’t forget! Stop a few times a day, take a couple of deep breaths through your nose and into your abdomen, and breathe out slowly. You deserve the one minute. Do it in the mall, at work, before the office holiday party, or as you’re about to tackle the mountain of gifts that need wrapping.

Mindful breathing does make a difference. It keeps your Lung qi strong. It changes brain chemistry and reminds your body that it doesn’t need to be in fight or flight mode. Regular mindful breathing will leave more energy for things like healthy digestion and protecting your immune system. Plus, sometimes we all just need a minute!

2. Avoid holiday feast overload: remember to snack frequently. Okay, this may sound counter-intuitive, but it works. Eat your breakfast early and then follow up with small snacks every 2-3 hours — snacks that include protein, like nuts, cheese, or quinoa. Eating plenty early in the day helps keep energy, brain function, and cortisol levels high when they need to be, and this also helps minimize that late afternoon energy crash and the late afternoon or nighttime snacking habits, as well as the holiday party “free for all” eating binges.

When you’re getting ready to attend a holiday feast, DO NOT skimp on early meals and snacks because you know you are having a big meal later on. That is not helpful for your body, your energy, your emotional state, or your metabolism.

3. Keep your immune system strong! It’s that time of year. Everywhere you turn someone is out sick, or should be! Don’t forget the basics! What is the one thing proven to prevent the spread of germs? YES–hand washing! And our mothers were right: proper rest DOES make our immune systems strong and sugar DOES make our immune systems weaker. In between your holiday treats, load up on things like homemade soup, extra veggies, and whole grains and force yourself to get to bed at a reasonable hour. Incidentally, all of those things (except maybe hand washing!) help to balance our moods as well.

Remember, an acupuncture treatment (or two) around this time of year can also be extremely beneficial.  It can boost your energy and immune system and calm your nervous system.

4. Simplify. I know… easy for me to say, right? But if you can stop and take a few minutes to remember what this season is truly about for you, it can help you prioritize how you should really be spending your time, energy, and money.

What is truly important to you this holiday season? To enjoy your family and friends? To do an act of kindness for someone else? To have some down time for yourself? Whatever it is, put it at the top of your list. Worried about disappointing people? Explain it to them. Encourage them to do the same.

It always makes me sad this time of year to see how many people are stressed and unhappy. At the very least, cross 2-3 things off your list. Whether it’s scrubbing the kitchen floor before your in-laws come (maybe they’ll buy you a housekeeper next year!) or running out for those extra stocking stuffers (what about homemade gift certificates for special time together?), find at least two things that you can cross off that will make your life simpler over the coming weeks. Good luck to you!