It’s the most wonderful time of the year! But that doesn’t mean you might not be feeling stressed by your “to-do” list. Wouldn’t it be a gift to yourself this holiday season if you could enjoy the next few months while crushing that list of all your shopping, planning, and budgeting you want to accomplish? Well today I have compiled my top five best ways to relieve stress for this time of the year.

We love the holidays in my house. The homemade cooking, the gift shopping for friends and family, and all of our amazing family traditions, it is truly one of the most magical times of the year. And you can actually go through this season enjoying it all, not stressing. But before we jump into those amazing 5 stress reducing tricks, I want to talk about stress and what it is actually doing to your body.

What is Stress and How is it Hurting Me?

Stress is your body’s way of responding to any kind of demand. And not all stress is bad. There is good stress as well.  Getting married, having a baby, those are great things! But the problem comes when our bodies stay under this heightened level of cortisol it eventually starts to hurt our memory and brain function. But stress does more than just effect your brain. When you are stressed, adrenaline and cortisol rush into the body. Your blood pressure and heart rate increase. Glucose is released into the bloodstream for ready energy, and digestion, growth, and immune system functions are suppressed and put on hold. Pain tolerance is increased, as your body prepares for what is causing the stress and what the outcome can be.

After these reactions you come to your fight or flight response and then resolve the situation. These levels come down and your body begins to turn to normal. However, stress effects your entire body and when you have chronic stress it begins to take a toll on your organ’s functions and you can become more at risk for heart disease, heart attacks, a weakened immune system, weight gain, acceleration Alzheimers, and digestive issues. But don’t stress over stress! I’ve got your covered!

The Top 5 Ways to Relieve Stress During the Holidays

1. Exercise Routine

Exercise is one of the most natural and powerful relievers of stress because it releases endorphins which are your body’s mood enhancers. Research has found that people who are not active are more effected by stress than those who are active.  Exercise improves self-confidence and leads to better mental processing. It also lowers the risk of depression. Routine exercise also regulate hormones and helps the body recover making sleep better.

2. Quiet Time

If you are prone to struggling with worry and anxiety one of the best ways to find peace is through a devotional or quiet time. These can be done at any time of the day, and any where you are. Having a quiet time has been practiced for thousands of years, and it helps improve well being and connection with other people. If you want proof? A study was done on the practice of “mindfulness”, and it scientifically proved that it helped reduce stress and anxiety in many people. Mental health plays a huge role in the overall health of your body. It affects your cognitive and your abilities to focus and pay attention, it can affect your eating habits, your quality of sleep and your weight. Try adding a quiet time to your daily routine for just 10-15 minutes a day.

3. Healthy Diet

Now this can feel very difficult during the holidays with all of those delicious treats and Christmas festivities, but this makes it even more crucial to make wise decisions. Now I am not saying don’t have a vacation meal, but what I am saying is to be smart about it. If it’s lunch time and you have a Christmas party to go to that evening where you might want a cookie. Well, make that lunch super healthy and pack it with nutrient dense foods such as lean proteins, leafy green vegetables, avocados to get those good fats, and some good raw dairy products of fermented foods to strengthen your gut.

The important facts to remember are knowing what refined sugars and alcohol and caffeine do to your system. Added sugars spike your blood sugar which increase cravings, fatigue and anxiety. They send your body into a bit of a shock. Alcohol and caffeine, often consumed to calm down or give energy, can actually cause anxiety, leaving you fatigued and tired. They dehydrate your body and interrupt your natural sleep rhythms that your body has created and that your body runs off of. So be aware, yes have your treats but be balance this holiday season to avoid high stress and hurting your body.

4. Limit Screen Time

This is a real issue these days. Many studies have linked social media to depression. People get stuck in the struggle of comparison and jealousy and they being to feel like their lives are lacking. The holiday season is all about family and connecting with people, and much less about that perfect picture to post to all your follows. Social connection is scientifically tied to longevity of life. It helps people feel a part of a community, and that they are seen and heard, and this actually supports and heals your body from the inside out. It naturally and almost immediately can boost your mood. Download an app that tracks your phone usage. Put boundaries on your phone, and when you are doing nothing, try not to mindlessly scroll, but mindfully spend time with family or just day dreaming.

5. Use Essential Oils

Several essential oils have been shown to relieve stress and reduce the affects that cortisol has on your body. Oils such as lavender, frankincense, valor, ylang ylang, orange, and bergamot not only help in stressful situations but they also reduce inflammation, improve immunity, clear skin, improve sleep, and balance hormones. These are also safe to use on your children as well. If they have a certain time of the day that they seem to get a little cranky start applying essential oils before that time. Many studies have been done finding that the use of essential oils reduces chronic stress, and promotes an overall calming effect on a person. 

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