- Mental stress: This time of year has a lot of moving parts, which can drain us quickly. Long before December, we begin to think about holiday travel, coordinating schedules, planning dinners and parties, and gift shopping. We spend many weeks making and executing plans, sometimes exhausting our mental resources long before January.
- Emotional stress: We spend a lot of time with family members and friends we may not have healthy relationships with. Losses experienced during the year can feel heavier during the holidays. We want to feel gratitude for the good in our lives but sometimes become powerfully aware of what’s missing.
- Physical stress: The busy nature of the season often results in a decrease in physical care. We’re less likely to rest well and to get adequate exercise and nutrition. Running on comfort foods, sugar, alcohol, and reduced sleep, our bodies become tired and depleted easily.
- Meditate: The holidays are a great time to intentionally make space for a meditation practice. Even if it’s only five minutes a day, retreat to a quiet place and breathe. If your brain won’t slow down, give it something else to focus on by using this simple box breathing technique:
Visualize a square, and imagine your breath moving like a dot along its edges. Starting at the top right corner, breathe in for four counts as the dot travels across the top of the square. Hold for four counts as the dot travels down the right side. Breathe out as it moves along the bottom edge of the square and hold for four counts as the dot travels back up the left side.
- Journal: It can be helpful to verbally process your feelings during the holiday season, even if only with yourself. Pay attention to your emotions and make note of them. This practice can involve writing full pages. It can also be as simple as creating a bullet-point list of things that have happened and a brief description of how you felt about them.
- Move: You don’t have to carve out time to go to the gym every day in order to receive the benefits of movement. Bundle up and go for a brisk walk. Dance with your children to Christmas music. Jump rope in the garage. There are endless ways to be physically active; get creative and make time to get your blood moving.
- Hydrate: For every alcoholic or caffeinated beverage you consume, drink a glass of water or a mug of herbal tea. Our bodies need to be properly hydrated in order to function properly; in a season full of dehydrating foods and beverages, a little intentional hydration goes a long way.
- Sleep: Making sleep a priority is key. Our bodies and brains repair themselves during our sleep cycles. When the quality or quantity of our sleep is poor, we miss out on the restoration process. We are less focused, less resilient, and we have fewer internal resources for managing stress and anxiety.