I’m not sure about you, but I have mixed feelings about the holiday season. As much as I love food, Christmas music, and spending (a certain amount of) time with family, there seems to be a whole different level of ‘stress’ this time of year. At least where I live, there’s no such thing as ‘running a few quick errands’ or ‘just need to stop by…’. Everything is a hassle. If you happen to add to that a full-time job, perhaps a partner, kids… and the fact that it gets dark now at 5pm, it can make anyone go a little crazy, and lose sight of the true spirit of the holiday season. So here, I’m giving my top 5 tips for staying stress-free over the holiday season. Enjoy and don’t forget to share!
#1. Be efficient – One of the biggest things I have found makes a difference in managing stress is to plan efficiently. At work, try to schedule meetings together so that you can dedicate time for yourself to catch up. For your personal to-do list, plan ahead where you need to go, and estimate how long things may take. Do not drive back and forth between places. Make a list. Avoid busy travel times. Buy groceries for at least a couple days. The more efficient you can be, the less time you’ll spend sitting in traffic, or feeling rushed.
#2. Eat well – This is absolutely crucial for staying stress-free. Too much alcohol, caffeine, sugar and carbohydrates (like the stuff found at most holiday parties) can wreak havoc on our immune systems, and our ability to handle stress. Plus, not eating the right foods can interfere with your digestion and ruin your sleep. While we all probably know we should eat more vegetables, I think it’s more important this time of year to have a consistent diet and routine. Try to keep things simple during the week – buy a box of greens for a quick salad, and things like salmon, chicken, and vegetables can easily be baked in a pan together in 30 minutes. The more you can keep a routine during the week, the less stressed you’ll be, and the less detrimental that fruitcake or eggnog might be on the weekend.
#3. Sleep – I can’t stress this enough. You probably already know how much sleep you need, and the times you sleep the best. Create a quiet, dark environment for your sleep. Do not watch TV before bed. Do not eat too late (I’d say before 9pm at the absolute latest, but ideally by 6pm). Avoid caffeine after 4pm. Enjoy a relaxing tea after dinner. And please, remind yourself that there are only so many hours in a day. You need to be rested in order to be productive the next day and keep your stress levels down.
#4. Exercise – This is a great tool for stress management that often gets ignored (often because stressed people think there’s no way they have time to workout!). Trust me, the times when you are the most stressed is exactly the time when a quick workout will benefit you the best. It doesn’t have to be much, and it’s okay if you haven’t exercised in awhile. A nice walk around the block after dinner can help clear your mind. A quick jog, or even some warm-up stretches, pushups, or squats in the living room can get the blood flowing, boost your mood, and your productivity, making you…you guessed it. Less stressed.
#5. Slow Down! – If you forget everything else, and need just one thing to remind yourself during the holiday season, it’s “slow down”. While I’m trying to give you tips to increase productivity, at some point you will need to recognize, and accept, that you’re only human, and you can only do so much. You do not need to be the person that plays human bumper cars at the shopping mall. You do not need to cut people off in traffic to get that last-minute gift card. There are more important things in life, like slowing down to enjoy the food, holiday music, and (a certain amount of) time with family.
I hope you find these tips helpful! For more free health tips and blog posts, make sure to head over to www.christopherkneend.com and sign-up for the newsletter at the bottom of the page!