De-stress this holiday and warm-up those winter blues
The holiday season is here, bringing with it time for friends, family, and celebration. Unfortunately, along with the highs of the holidays come the piles of stress and anxiety. Luckily, the giving season is the perfect time to take a step back and give yourself a much-needed dose of self-love. Here are a few ideas to help bear-hug yourself when you need it most:
1. Don’t forget the fruitcake. Nothing inspires a sense of holiday cheer like baking something special for you or someone you love. Choose a favorite dessert recipe, turn on a soul-quenching soundtrack, and get baking! It’s incredible what one person can create. If you feel like sharing, call up a close friend and ask them to join. When you sit down to enjoy, take a moment to let it sink in – you’ve made something delicious and more importantly you’ve made it.
2. Spa retreat — in your bathroom. Giving your skin a spa-treatment is a great way to relish in how beautiful your skin is simply because it is all your own. Pick up an at home face mask, a body scrub, and some aromatherapy candles. Give yourself the gift of an oasis right in your own room. Enjoy a hot cup of chamomile tea with your regimen to further your much deserved relaxation.
3. Write the stress away. Take a little time to journal what you is going on in your life and how you are feeling. The simple act of putting your thoughts on paper, and bringing awareness to what is going on around you can have very beneficial affects. By doing so you will invite a sense of compassion into your life.
4. Zen out. Meditation practices have become part of mainstream culture, with celebrities and CEOs alike boasting about the benefits of sitting quietly with yourself. The best part about it? The practice is accessible to everyone and completely free. All you need is something comfortable to sit on, such as a chair, pillow, or yoga mat, and a space in which you can be alone. There are guided meditations available online or if silence is more comforting, consider simply sitting with your breath. As inspirational yogi and life coach Elena Brower suggests…..
5. Move that beautiful body! Often, during times of stress we can clench and tighten our bodies without knowing it, causing tension and pain. It is important to take some time out of gift-wrapping and meeting year-end deadlines to gift yourself with physical activity. Run, bike, yoga, roller-blade – whatever! Even just stepping away from the screen for a twenty minute walk can re-frame your mindset and give you the energy you need to sing that one last Christmas carol.
6. Who’s the hot date? This is the time of year when our calendars have wait-lists, but give VIP access to someone you love and clear a night to gift yourself with their company. Being reminded of the people who make the holidays merry and bright is a great stress-buster.
7. Tea party for one. Herbal tea is known for it’s calming effects. Pour yourself a hot cup. light a candle, sit back, and breathe. The to-do list will be there when you get back, and taking the time to catch up with yourself will make all the difference as you get back to the grind. Try Chamomile tea or peppermint tea for tension soothers.
8. Give then receive. Embracing the giving spirit can have extremely positive effects on your stress levels. Many of us cannot find the time to volunteer at a shelter or serve food at a soup kitchen, but there are many ways to give to those in need this season. Making a monetary donation takes all but five minutes and a credit card, and can go to anything from buying a cow for a community in Malawi to supporting an art program at a local school. If multi-tasking is more your style, consider one of these holiday gift idea that give their proceeds to good causes. (link to ethical gifts)
9. Trees? Sky? Wow! During the winter we find ourselves spending most of our time in-doors, and the amount of daylight available becomes increasingly shorter. Taking to get outside to a park or for a neighborhood stroll reminds us that the grass still grows and the sun still shines even on the most frantic of days. The chill in the air will also make coming back inside an even sweeter experience. Have the next tip waiting for you to make it more delicious.
10. If it tastes like heaven it’s probably chocolate. Dark chocolate is high in antioxidants and has been shown to boost serotonin levels. So take a second to indulge and feel the stress melt away.
11. GIRLS NIGHT OUT (or in!) Girlfriends do wonders to laugh away holiday blues. Plan a night to go to a favorite hot spot, or stay in and enjoy your favorite chick flick. One rule: No stress talk! This is a night of fun and friends, and stress is not invited.
12. Sing it loud and proud. It doesn’t have to be a carol, or even a real song, but whenever you find yourself alone – shower, car, elevator, bathroom at work – don’t be afraid to belt out a tune. Singing tricks your brain into thinking it is relaxed and happy enough to be actually singing. Eventually, you will find yourself feeling better. Who knows, you may even want to give a little dance when you do.
13. Earn a bravery badge. Spontaneous acts of courage, no matter how minute, have dramatic effects on self-confidence – the arch enemy of stress. It can be as simple as looking a stranger in the eye and smiling, or asking that don’t-quite-know-you-very-well coworker to lunch. Perhaps it means calling up an old friend or FINALLY sign up for that Zumba class you’ve been wanting to take.