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How to Decrease Holiday Stress

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December 14, 2015
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One of my holiday traditions is to visit the Christmas Market at the Distillery District. It’s a beautiful place to be this season – especially with loved ones. But it’s impossible to avoid holiday stress here, as the crowds can be quite dense and parking can be incredibly sparse. That aside, I can appreciate everyone’s desire to enjoy the spirit of the season (even if it’s to capture the perfect instagram photo).

Breathe

The simplest way to activate the body’s relaxation response is through focused breathing. This will leave your body calm and relaxed. Deep breathing (by moving the diaphram) will increase the oxygen supply to your brain and stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system. So the next time you find yourself in a line-up, inhale for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, exhale for 4 seconds and hold for 4 seconds. (This can also be used when you’re dealing with obnoxious questions from well-meaning family members!

All in moderation

Stress does a funny thing, because it can actually increase our appetite. Given that the best treats are often made this time of year, it’s easy to overindulge. This becomes a vicious cycle as gaining a few pounds can lead to more stress. A healthy solution: have protein-rich snacks on hand (mixed nuts and a clementine, or hummus and veggies) and eat fairly regularly (don’t go over 3 hours without eating). Also, while it’s unrealistic to avoid all those holiday treats remember the 80/20 rule – 80% healthy and 20% indulgence.

Move

Oftentimes it’s nice to bundle-up, get outside and take in the fresh air. High intensity exercise can actually raise cortisol levels, so elevate your holiday spirits with nourishing activities such as walking or yoga. If being the cold isn’t your cup of tea, download the NTC app or find a short video on YouTube to complete while holiday movies are playing the the background!

Being grateful

The simplest way to boost our mood and decrease stress is to remember and appreciate what we have. My favourite way to attract more positive energy into our lives is to write down 3 things that I’m grateful for each day.

Self Care

The holidays usually have us thinking about other people, so it’s very common to not think of ourselves. Whether it be a massage, an at home Epsom-salt bath, or even a good book, it’s important to have ‘me’ time. But sometimes self care isn’t about indulging in a bath. Self care can include letting things go – whether it’s working through negative thoughts keep popping up, finally breaking away from a toxic friendship, or saying ‘no’ to commitments that don’t excite you. Check out this great article to learn more. 

Final Thoughts

Not everyone loves the holiday season, and if this might apply to you – don’t hesitate to reach out for support. Whether it be with friends, or even a health professional. 

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