The holidays are a time for close family, good friends, yummy food, and a whole lot of stress. Between shopping for gifts, preparing extravagant meals, and putting up decorations, the holiday season puts a strain on the sleep schedules, wallets, and emotions of many Americans. In a survey conducted by Joy Organics, 88% of Americans claimed that the holiday season is the most stressful time of year, and 59% of people would describe it as “chaotic,” (Anderer, 2019).
So how can we combat the stress that comes with the holiday season without missing out on the holiday activities? There are many effective stress relief techniques that can be worked into your schedule even during the chaotic holiday season. Many popular stress relief techniques work by refocusing your mind on the present situation, rather than the other million things that may be consuming your thoughts. Here, we will discuss three simple ways to alleviate stress during the upcoming holiday season:
- Breathing exercises. There are several variations of breathing exercises to decrease stress, most involving deep breathing. Deep belly breathing can be done when one sits or lays with one hand on their belly and the other on their chest. When practicing proper belly breathing, the hand on the belly will move while the hand on the chest remains still.
- Progressive muscle relaxation. To perform progressive muscle relaxation, one focuses on relaxing each muscle in a head-to-toe direction. Each muscle must be relaxed one at a time, starting from the head, eyebrows, jaw, etc., and finishing with the toes. This can be performed standing, sitting, or laying.
- Guided imagery. There are many popular ways of participating in guided imagery, often using audio from apps and YouTube videos to guide the image. Although those are great, guided imagery can be performed independently and in any location. Much like the term “find your happy place,” one can imagine their favorite place (the beach, the park, Grandma’s house, etc.) and focus on creating that environment in their mind. A good way to do this is to focus on each sense, rather than just on the visual image. For instance, think of the smells, the sounds, the temperature, etc.
Anderer, J. (2019, December 22). Jingle Bell Crock: 88% of Americans feel the holiday season is most stressful time of Year. Study Finds. Retrieved October 3, 2021, from https://www.studyfinds.org/jingle-bell-crock-88-of-americans-feel-the-holiday-season-is-most-stressful-time-of-year/.
Six relaxation techniques to reduce stress. Harvard Health Publishing. (2019, September 10). Retrieved October 3, 2021, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/six-relaxation-techniques-to-reduce-stress.
Stress management: Breathing exercises for relaxation. University of Michigan Health. (2020, August 31). Retrieved October 3, 2021, from https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/uz2255.
This article reviewed by Ms. Deb Dooley.
There’s nothing more important than our good health – that’s our principal capital asset.
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