You’ve read so many articles on how to “manage stress” during the holidays you can’t bring yourself to gaze over one more. It is very similar to how you feel when it comes time for pumpkin pie after the massive plate of turkey, potatoes and green beans you devoured-you are simply stuffed! But you manage to make room for just one more article because maybe this time you will actually come across something that helps. This is our version of how to beat holiday stress. And when we say beat stress we are not talking about the kind of “if I am nice to it, it will go away” approach. We are talking about an all-encompassing approach that provides insight into stress triggers and provides proven coping methods, nutrition pointers, tips on staying hydrated with an electrolyte replacement drink, and much more.
Stress triggers do vary from person to person, but during the holidays there are triggers that tend to affect the majority of us. The most dreaded events include:
- Waiting in line
- Fear of going into holiday debt
- Meeting holiday obligations
- Having to attend parties/gatherings you don’t really want to go to
- Trying to “do it all”
Other items that seem to be on the “not so fun list” for some of us include:
- Holiday weight gain
- Having to spend time with “certain relatives”
- And just simply “having to be in a good mood” when you’re tired and stressed
So after you finish squeezing your SUV into a “compact” space of the over crowded mall parking lot, take a deep breath because there are solutions to all off the above stressors. Experts have found that a few small changes can greatly change how we respond to the things that frustrate us most during the holidays. Here are some of our favorite stress-busting reducers.
Give Up On Perfection
That’s right it’s time to hang up your angel wings. Chances are they need a little refresher! All that rushing around and worrying about pleasing everyone can put a crink in even the most perfect pair of flyers. There might be a few people who will be disappointed you didn’t bring your famous layer cake to the office party. But believe me, your body would prefer you spend the time doing something relaxing instead of trying to score an A plus in everyone’s book!
Change Your Outlook
Once you realize people are still going to like you even if you aren’t perfect, changing your outlook on situations is easier. Suddenly RSVPing “Won’t Attend” to a holiday function doesn’t riddle you with guilt like it might have before. Also, it is easier to maintain a positive outlook when the world isn’t resting on your shoulders.
Focus On What You Can Control
Experts know our anxiety decreases when we feel we have some control or say in a situation. You may not be able to control how your in-laws get along at the holiday dinner, but you can control your response to the situation. For example, if the typical arguing ensues over who cooks a better roast, instead of feeling your head start to pound and hoping that everyone would just “get along,” take a deep breathe and know this situation is between only those engaged in the arguing. You can’t control their reactions but you can control yours.
Don’t Worry About What Things “Should Be”
If you find yourself spending a lot of time hoping your co-worker doesn’t bring their annoying spouse to the holiday party, you may want to re-think your mental “energy spend.” The holidays are a period where we come into contact with many people we normally wouldn’t chose to spend time with. Worrying about how things “should be” only adds to the stress many people experience from November through January. Instead, shift your effort from focusing on the negative (Why do I have to spend my evening with Cynthia’s annoying husband) to ways you can make a positive impact. Spend some time volunteering at the local animal shelter or donate food to a nearby food bank. Just shifting your “energy spend” can help those who really deserve the attention this time of year.
Support Yourself Nutritionally And Physically
Yes between gift shopping, additional grocery runs and your daily work obligations, the holidays can stretch you physically. However, skipping your spin class so you can finish sending out the party invites isn’t going to help you in the long run. We all know exercise is a proven stress reducer. So why skimp on this powerful tension buster? Usually it’s because people run out of time during the holidays and consider working out a “luxury spend.” Well time to stop that thought process in its tracks. Your priority during the holiday should be to ENJOY the season. Make of list of what helps you enjoy the holiday? I bet “being in a bad mood because I didn’t get my endorphin high” is not on that list. So this holiday make sure you get to the gym or lace up your tennies for a brisk walk. And don’t forget to stay hydrated. The colder dryer weather means you need an electrolyte replacement drink to keep your cells fighting the good fight.
I hope you found some nuggets in this article and you enjoy a simpler, more relaxed holiday season. Oh, and if you think about reaching for those angel wings, I think they are happy hanging right where they are!
- Milena Glusac is the VP Of Marketing for Vitalyte Sports Nutrition. A former world-class distance runner and freelance sports broadcaster, Ms. Glusac learned a long time ago you can’t be perfect and trying to do so is exhausting.