Is your life highly stressful? A certain amount of stress is normal and your body is well equipped to handle it, but if you are experiencing prolonged and intense stress, it can put you at risk for health problems. Since the holidays can exacerbate stress, let's take a look at what you can do to reduce your stress level this holiday season.
Control what you can. While many things in life that are beyond our control, if you focus on what you can’t control, it will only elevate your stress level. Focus instead on the things you can control. When you feel more in the driver’s seat, you feel more empowered and your stress will decrease.
Focus on the positive. Train yourself to spot all the fabulous things about your day little and big. Plugging into gratitude (not just during the holidays) can reduce your stress and improve your outlook. Gratitude really is the key to unlock a more positive you.
Put yourself first. Stressful situations can take your focus away from properly caring for yourself. If you neglect yourself for the sake of other people or external issues, you will be creating more problems than you are solving. Make sure you consider what you need and then do something—however small—for yourself each day.
Get enough sleep. A lack of sleep exacerbates stress. It also impacts your energy level, physical health, metabolism and your mood. Try to get seven hours of sleep a night. Go to bed earlier! Sleep, (along with eating healthy and exercise) is the third component to a healthier, less stressed you!
Exercise. Exercise has so many benefits to your health, but it also alleviates stress and keeps your mood elevated, so make sure you get it scheduled. While you may think you are too busy during the holidays, you will be amazed at how exercise can super charge your energy level and boost your clarity so you can get even more accomplished.
Eat foods great for your heart. Since prolonged, intense stress can take a toll on your heart, eat foods good for your ticker. Some foods that are great for your heart include oatmeal, salmon, avocados, olive oil and walnuts. When you eat foods with omega-3 fatty acids, you can reduce blood pressure and prevent clotting. Foods with monosaturated fats can help lower LDL or bad cholesterol.
Reach out. Nothing ever gets better when you keep your stress to yourself. Talk to a friend or family member about your stressful situation. Social connections can bolster our resilience. Sometimes just by expressing yourself you will feel better. Plus, other people can offer a different perspective or solution to what is stressing you.
Recharge and Relax. Do you recharge doing something in solitude or do you recharge in a social setting with a group? Whatever recharges you, get it on your schedule. Relax. Stretch, take a walk, sit in silence, take a yoga class, get a pedicure or read a great book. Get a massage, walk through a garden, or listen to music. Do something you find replenishing and relaxing.
The best thing you can do for your stress level is to pay attention to how you feel and recognize when you need to do things differently to protect your health. Aren't you worth it after all? Give yourself the gift of reduced stress this holiday season!