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Dec 8, 2014

10 Ways to Fight Holiday Stress

With the last minute gift shopping, the overwhelmingly large crowds, and back-to-back diet busting holiday parties – we understand how easy it is to not feel so wonderful during the holidays. In fact, a survey by the American Psychological Association found that more women than men feel stressed during the holidays and have a harder time relaxing and enjoying the season – which really defeats the whole point. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of 10 ways to help you dodge the seasonal blues and stay happy, healthy, and energized.

1. Boost your mood with sunlight
Sunlight stimulates the production of feel-good serotonin and also helps relieve seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which impacts millions of Americans each year – Between 60% and 90% of people with SAD are women.

Winter Sun

2. Get a massage
Stress relief is one of the first benefits that comes to mind when thinking of massage therapy. It’s also a key component for anyone trying to achieve a healthier lifestyle. Clinical studies show that even a singe half hour session can significantly lower your heart rate, cortisol levels and insulin levels — all of which explains why massage therapy and stress relief go hand-in-hand.


3. Take a whiff of citrus
Researchers studying depression have found that certain citrus fragrances, such as grapefruit, boost feelings of well-being and alleviate stress by upping levels of norepinephrine, a hormone that affects mood.


4. Take a walk
Going for a walk in the park could actually shift your brain into a calmer state, according to recent research. A UK study found that walking through green spaces can put the brain into a meditative state. The act is found to trigger “involuntary attention,”meaning that it holds attention while also allowing for reflection. Try following a walking meditation practice in one of your favorite parks to enjoy the health benefits of moderate physical activity while also quieting the mind and increasing awareness.


5. Squeeze here
In traditional Chinese medicine, the fleshy place between your index finger and thumb is called the hoku point. Applying firm pressure there for only 30 seconds can reduce stress and tension in your upper body.


6. Laugh out Loud 
Laughing like crazy reduces stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease. It also triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals.


7. Forget perfection
Don’t obsess over making everything perfect. It’s okay if your house is a little cluttered or dinner is on the table a few minutes late. Focus your energy on enjoying the people in your life. Don’t sweat the small stuff and your holiday will be much more enjoyable.


8. Go tech-free
Did you know that constant cell phone buzzes and email alerts keep us in a perpetual fight-or-flight mode due to bursts of adrenaline? Not only is this exhausting, but it contributes to mounting stress levels, especially in women. Holiday get-togethers are the perfect time to turn off your gadgets and spend time with friends and family without worry.


9. Make time to exercise
Working out may be the last thing you want to do when you are stressed out, but going for a run or hitting the gym can actually make you feel better. Research has found that workouts can boost your mood for up to 12 hours.


10. Don’t over schedule
If you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed by your holiday agenda, don’t over schedule your time and take on more than you can manage. Remember: It’s OK to slow down a bit.


What do you do to reduce holiday stress?