The holidays are the most wonderful time of year, but for some, they are the most stressful. With frantic holiday shopping approaching and countless tests and exams right around the corner, it is important to make time to relax and take care of our well-being. Here are a few scientifically proven ways to destress during the holiday season.
1. Try meditation and relaxation techniques. Meditation has been one of the most effective ways to reduce stress. Meditation has been gaining popularity in the past few years. Researchers from the American Psychological Association 2020 have found that meditation lowers symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression. Plus, meditation can improve focus and self-awareness. If meditation does not work, other relaxation techniques are also powerful ways to help deal with stress. For example, progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) is a deep relaxation technique that has been proven to control stress and anxiety, as well as physical stress and aches. This technique involves tensing muscles, holding and releasing. The continuous action of tensing your muscles calms the body, as well as the mind.
2. Get enough sleep. Believe it or not, the amount of sleep you get can heavily impact your levels of stress. Teenagers should aim for around eight hours of sleep per night to optimize productivity and brainpower during the day. With hectic schedules around the holidays, this can be hard to achieve. However, doctors from the Sleep Foundation found that “power naps” can greatly reduce levels of cortisol, the body’s stress response hormone. Taking 20-minute naps can boost your memory, cognitive and creativity skills. All in all, getting a sufficient night of sleep calms and restores the body, and prepares it for the day to come.
3. Exercise, exercise, exercise. Exercise can greatly reduce stress and improve sleep quality. Plus, exercising consistently leads to a healthier lifestyle. The US National Library of Medicine has found that working out lowers the body’s stress hormones, like cortisol, and releases endorphins, hormones that improve mood and well-being. Exercise can also improve sleep and self-esteem. Furthermore, exercise helps the body deal with physical stress and strains. Fortunately, there are many different ways to workout, which makes it easy for everyone to find something they enjoy. Exercises including workout videos, yoga, sports, and running are great ways to relieve stress and spend time.
4. Journal or write it down. Journaling is a great way to release stress in a calm manner. Writing about stressors can relax the mind and take focus away from the stress. Journaling also clears the mind, allowing one to overcome stress quickly and effectively. Journaling is beneficial because it allows one to release negative emotion, as well as focus more on positivity. Practicing gratitude also helps relieve stress and improves overall well-being. Studies from The University of Rochester Medical Center have shown that those who journal and incorporate daily gratitude are happier, healthier and less stressed. These techniques can be natural stress detoxes for the mind, as well as the body.
5. Skip out on the caffeine! Drinking excessive amounts of caffeine can cause feelings of anxiety and stress. Likewise, caffeine is a stimulate that invokes and stimulates the body, causing increased heart rate and blood pressure. Instead of reaching for coffee, opt for a caffeine-free tea instead. Teas like chamomile and mint are known to encourage relaxation and boost sleep quality. A study from Harvard Health 2014 showed that tea contains many health-promoting ingredients that have antioxidant properties. Try incorporating some tea into your routine!
It is vital to take time to release and get rid of stress to avoid burning out or feeling very exhausted. Various ways to relax work differently for everyone, so it is important to find what works best for you. Luckily, there are many ways to take care of your well-being, from meditation to exercise. All in all, everyone should find ways to relax and de-stress, especially during these stressful times.