By Jackie Rainford Corcoran EBS Health Columnist
If you celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas or Hanukkah, take a moment to visualize what you love most about these holidays.
There’s a lot of effort that goes into creating these magical moments and holidays can be stressful. In order to minimize stress and maximize cheer for the remainder of 2017, consider some of the following tips:
Make a budget: A 2017 survey by the American Psychological Association found that Americans name money as the second-most common source of stress in their lives. For your sanity, create a budget for food and gifts and stick to it.
If you don’t have cash to pay for all of the gifts you want to give, consider healthy, low cost and free alternatives like setting aside time for a special ski date.
The Federal Reserve reported that outstanding consumer revolving debt, mostly credit card debt, hit an all-time high of $1.021 trillion in June 2017—higher than it was in 2008 during the Great Recession.
Scale it down: Lofty expectations are often a reason for higher stress levels. Stick with manageable tasks to enhance quality time spent with friends and family.
Stay organized: Disorganization leads to feelings of being overwhelmed and even victimhood. Plan out your “To Do” list so you’re not experiencing panic with the rest of the frantic last-minute shoppers.
Get outside: Any cardiovascular exercise stimulates the release of feel-good hormones in our brain called endorphins, which can help us feel happier and less stressed. This includes everything from a Turkey Trot before the big meal, to a post-meal walk, or even building a snowman or igloo.
Take a break: As great as it is to be with your family for the holidays, it can be overwhelming. University of Minnesota psychologist William Doherty suggests anticipating when breakdowns are likely to occur and planning accordingly.
Even if you’re in tight quarters, you can still remove yourself from the situation. But do so in a cordial way so you’re not isolating and drawing attention to yourself. A 10-minute walk with another person could be a fine remedy.
Eat, drink and sleep wisely: Holidays provide a great example of how interconnected our health is with what we consume, how we sleep, how we move and our stress levels. Overeating causes us to be sedentary but movement allows us to de-stress. Over drinking can make us say or do things we regret (stressful!) as well as negatively impact our sleep. Sleep deprivation (along with alcohol) can trigger cravings and cause us to overconsume empty calories. It’s all related.
Get outside of your own head: Connecting with friends and empowering each other is powerful medicine. Watch funny movies and listen to music that makes you feel good.
Breathe: This is the simplest way to alleviate stress. Short, shallow, choppy breathing signals to the body that something is wrong. In response, your body releases stress hormones to prepare you for a fight, flight or freeze response. When you take long, deep, intentional breaths, it signals to the body that everything is OK and it can regain hormonal balance.
Jackie Rainford Corcoran is an IIN Certified Holistic Health Coach, culture consultant and public speaker. For a complementary health consultation, reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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