During the holidays, one of the biggest stressors is the number of commitments and celebrations that require and revolve around food. If you’ve been on your A game for any amount of time, it can severely test or wreck the healthiest of habits.
But they always say that STRESSED spelled backward is DESSERTS. So, maybe, we can help you battle the most stressful season of the year with a “twist” on the old adage. Here are eight self-care efforts you can make to bring some woo-sah back into your fa-la-la!
D - DO LESS
If you’ve watched Bad Moms 2 and feel like you’re watching an E! True Hollywood Story about yourself, it’s time to purge the holiday season to-do list. Do you really need to send cards? Do you really need to go to the parade, host the party, see the play, buy every single gift in a physical store? No, you don’t. Choose quality over quantity when you recreate your holiday to-do list, adding only those items that bring your family the most joy and have the most meaning.
E - EXERCISE
Routine exercise of any kind reduces the body’s stress hormones - adrenaline and cortisol. Research from Harvard this summer found that “even a 20 minute stroll can clear the mind and reduce stress.” Whether you hit the gym, run around the block, go for a swim, do yoga in the guest room, or beat the hell out of a kickboxing bag...it all counts!
S - SEEK SOLACE
It’s not just for hippies anymore. The benefits of meditation have eased their way into the mainstream and it’s making us all saner one deep, deep exhale at a time. Apps like Headspace make the practice accessible and often take no more than 10 minutes to help you reset.
S - SAY NO
There is so much power in learning to say no; a worthwhile resolution if you need one. In her series on vulnerability, artist Annie Herzig posited that saying no is hard because we don’t want to “appear as though we don’t have a handle on things, or that we don’t care, or that we’re not capable”... when it can actually be courageous and healthy. Don’t attend a party, give a gift, volunteer for an event, or do one more thing this season that you don’t want to, don’t have time for, or can’t emotionally handle. It’s OK.
E - EAT WELL
When you’re eating well, your body has more energy to fight things like stress and anxiety. “Clean eating” that’s free of unnecessary fats, sugar, and alcohol can sometimes be just the adjustment you need when the holiday season feels like too much. Can you still have a glass of mulled wine or pumpkin pie? Of course. You know best what “moderation” means to you.
R - REST
Healthy adults need eight hours of sleep every night. This is found to be true over and over in bodies of research...so why aren’t any of us listening? Rest here isn’t just about catching Zs in bed, though. Limit screentime in the evenings before bed and give your brain a break. Take a midday cat nap when you can get away with it. Have a lazy day...they’re kind of nice sometimes!
T - TALK ABOUT IT
Online services like Talkspace are making therapy more accessible than ever, at a time when many of us have never needed it more. Whether you go that route or simply call up or meet up with a friend, if you’re feeling stressed or anxious… SAY IT OUT LOUD! Sharing concerns can create a lot of relief for yourself, and may even provide help you were too afraid to ask for.
S - SMILE
Smiling has been found to help people recover from stressful situations sooner. So cracking a joke, watching your favorite childhood holiday movie, hugging loved ones, baking cookies, dancing, or doing 1001 other things that simply make you smile...it’s all well worth it.