8 Ways to Destress During the Holidays

Tags: Holiday Stress, Mindfulness, Wellness,

The holidays can be a wonderful time of the year, but with so many responsibilities, they can also be very stressful. Fortunately, there are many enjoyable ways to destress during the holidays that can leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

1. Get enough sleep.

Sleep is perhaps the single most important way to destress during the holidays, or any day of the year. Being tired or groggy is a stressor in and of itself, and you’ll find it more difficult to accomplish tasks at hand. A full night of restful sleep will leave your body and mind ready to face the day.

In order to ensure a better night’s sleep, be sure to maintain the same sleep cycle by going to sleep and waking up at the same time as often as possible. You may also want to use a sound machine, darken the room, and add a diffuser that releases relaxing scents into the bedroom.

2. Live in the moment.

All you have is right here and right now. You know those plans that you have for tomorrow? You can’t do them until tomorrow, so save them for tomorrow. You know that project that didn’t go as well as you hoped yesterday? You can’t change it today, so leave it with yesterday. Once you live in the moment, a majority of your stressors will be off your mind.

3. Allow yourself to smile and laugh.

Sometimes we become so preoccupied with our responsibilities that we forget that life can be fun. Remember to smile often, and don’t hold back when something is funny. Go ahead and sincerely laugh out loud. It will work wonders for your spirit and the mood of those around you. You may even want to rent your favorite holiday comedy and watch it with family and friends.

4. Practice mind-body wellness exercises.

Any form of exercise is a stress reliever. If you practice exercises that release stress off your mind as well as energize your body, you will find yourself stronger both mentally and physically. Fitness styles and exercises that can calm your mind include Pilates, yoga, progressive muscle relaxation, and tai chi.

  • Pilates – The Saw: Sit up with your legs spread to each side as the yoga mat. With your arms straight out to your sides, twist to your left. Then, stretch your right hand toward your left foot, pulsing three times. Roll up in the twist, untwist, and return to center. Repeat on the opposite side.
  • Yoga – The Mountain Pose: Stand with your feet together and your shoulders relaxed. Your weight should be evenly distributed. Take a deep breath and raise your hands over your head with your arms straight and your palms facing each other. Reach up with your fingertips.
  • Muscle Relaxation: Tense up different muscles in your body one by one for five seconds, and then release the muscles for 10 seconds. Be mindful of the feeling of relaxation when the tension is released.
  • Tai Chi – Knee Rolls: While standing and your knees slightly bent, place your hands on your knees with your fingers pointing inward. Rotate your knees in a circle in a clockwise and then counterclockwise motion.

You may also consider self-massage or participating in Reiki, which can soothe your body and mind through the healing touch of professionals skilled in the art. It is administered by “laying on hands” and is based on the idea that an unseen life force energy flows through us.  If one’s life force energy is low, then we are more likely to get sick or feel stress, and if it is high, we are more capable of being happy and healthy.

5. Eat well.

Healthy eating both strengthens your body and lifts your spirit. When you eat better, you feel better, and that will reflect in everything you do throughout the day. A few foods that potentially have stress-relieving benefits include:

  • Green, leafy vegetables: They contain folate, which produces dopamine, a pleasure-inducing brain chemical.
  • Turkey breast: Tryptophan in turkey helps produce serotonin, the chemical that regulates feelings of happiness and well-being. It also has been shown to have a calming effect.
  • Yogurt: The probiotics in yogurt can improve gut health, which in turn will reduce the stress on your brain and body.
  • Blueberries: Antioxidants in blueberries improve your body’s response to stress.

6. Meditate and practice mindful breathing.

One easy way to destress during the holidays is to simply sit in silence and reflect on all the positives in your life. In order to meditate fully, find a quiet room in your home where you won’t be disturbed.

As you’re doing so, concentrate on your breathing while releasing tension from your muscles.

If you have trouble getting into the right mindset for meditation, there are several helpful apps you can use, such as Calm and Aura.

7. Unplug and unwind.

Research shows that people check their phones 52 times in one day, and with the ability to learn about virtually anything at your fingertips, your brain is undoubtedly overwhelmed throughout the day. This is especially true during the holiday season, when we might be shopping for last-minute gifts or checking our bank account balances.

Turning off your phone and placing it in a hard-to-reach place at least an hour before bedtime will allow you to escape from the grind. Shutting down long before bedtime will also help you get to sleep faster.

If you’re too tempted to use your device, consider taking a walk outside, both to calm your mind and improve your mood.

8. Set priorities and boundaries.

Remember that you don’t have to agree to do everything and accomplish every task during the holiday season. It’s OK to say “no” to requests that you don’t have time to do to the best of your ability. You can also eliminate some projects from your holiday to-do list that you never particularly enjoyed. Along those lines, take advantage of online shopping, online ordering apps, and catering services to cut down on your tasks and save time.


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