Most of us look forward to the holiday season, but unfortunately the happiness we experience during the “most wonderful time of the year” typically coexists with another, less welcomed, sentiment: stress. There are plenty of ways for dealing with stress, but here are a few I find especially useful during the holidays. By dedicating just one hour a day to these tips, you can noticeably reduce the amount of stress you encounter this holiday season.
Practice Mindful Meditation (10 minutes)
With so many obligations and expectations associated with the holiday season, even the most well-balanced people often succumb to stress. I find that mindful meditation is not only a healthy way to relax and unwind, but also a useful tool in becoming more aware of everything that unfolds in the present moment. Observing thoughts without resorting to the labels and judgement that we tend to create helps us achieve a sense of balance and peace. The Meditation Center has some basic steps to help start you on the right foot.
Exercise (30 minutes)
Exercise is one of the oldest stress relievers around, and for good reason. If you exercise regularly, you probably already know how good it can make you feel. If not, I urge you to try it, especially during the hectic holiday season. Exercise eases tension, pumps out your body’s natural “feel good” chemicals, and even improves sleep, a major factor when it comes to stress and anxiety levels. I like to alternate days of cardio and strength training, but pick something that you are comfortable with. Walking, running, lifting weights, yoga, and group classes are all good options that will set you on the right path to alleviating holiday stress.
Balance Your Budget (10 minutes)
One of the biggest causes of holiday stress is, not surprisingly, money. People spend more during the holidays than any other time of year, then get stressed out by the credit card bills that add up deceivingly fast. By balancing your budget for a few minutes every day, you can stay on top of exactly how much you are spending on gifts, decorations, holiday parties, and so on. Even when I have a rough idea in my head of how much I am spending, it’s often much different when I see it on paper. Also use this time to start paying off a little bit at a time if possible. By staying on top of your finances you can avoid paying high interest rates and late fees, and save yourself not only some money but a whole lot of unnecessary stress this holiday season.
Give Back (10 minutes)
It’s amazing how good it can feel to give back to those less fortunate. Besides finding ways to volunteer in your community, there are plenty of ways to help others in just a few minutes a day by donating money, clothing, food, and even used cell phones and computer equipment. You can find an extensive online resource on a variety of holiday charities that accept donations here. Spend just a few minutes each day browsing these charities, and you might just find some new and surprising ways to help. Of course the main sentiment in donating and volunteering should be helping others, but the sense of satisfaction and fulfillment you get from giving back can also help combat stress, during the holidays or any other time of year.