Christmas is almost upon us! We here at LadyClever can already smell the pine trees and taste the eggnog (to be fair, we’ve been sipping on it since Black Friday). The holidays bring joy, cheer and all-around good spirit, to be sure, but they can also bring lots of unexpected stress as well. Figuring out holiday plans, finding extra cash for gifts, juggling hectic end-of-year work duties with your festive priorities, battling the oftentimes brutal elements… we’re not trying to be grinches, but things can start piling up to the point where strangling yourself with Christmas lights doesn’t sound like such a bad idea. It’s important to nip these stressors in the bud, before the symptoms they cause are added to stress you already may be feeling.
Medically, stress has been linked to headaches, sleep problems, weakened immune systems, fatigue, and acne breakouts. And those are just the physical effects stress has on the body! It can also cause irritability, depression, anxiety and even social withdrawal. So if you don’t want to spend the holiday season as a depressed, sleep-deprived, sick recluse with whiteheads galore and a short fuse, read on and try some of our tips for a stress-less Christmas.
Meditate. Meditation doesn’t get enough credibility. It’s a practice that’s been around for thousands of years and has been used by diverse cultures, but for some reason has come to be associated with monks and hippies. Medical research is finally catching on, though, and has correlated the use of meditation with a reduction in stress and the physical symptoms associated with stress. According to research done by the National Institute of Health, meditation might work by interacting with the nervous system through increasing blood flow and slowing down heart and breathing rates. It also improves the mind’s ability to pay attention and focus. Some experts believe that 15 minutes a day is enough to experience these benefits. There are a number of different types of meditative techniques you can practice, from transcendental meditation which involves a mantra (think OHM) to yoga to guided meditation. Best part: it only costs free-ninety-nine to participate!
Take a bath. People should really take more baths. The medical and stress-relieving benefits are numerous. Granted, the idea of stewing in a tub of your own special soup doesn’t sound too appealing, but that’s nothing a quick shower beforehand can’t take care of. A hot bath can relax your muscles, detoxify your body through sweating, reduce tension headaches, increase circulation in your vascular and lymphatic systems to boost your immune response — the list goes on and on. A few drops of natural oil, like olive oil, in the water will moisturize your skin and encourage your body to shed dead skin cells. Light a candle and meditate for the 15 to 30 minutes experts recommend you spend in the bathtub and you’ll have radiant skin and a calmer mind in one fell swoop!
Exercise. Don’t roll your eyes. We know you’ve heard it before countless times, but physical activity is still one of the most effective ways to combat stress. You don’t have to run a marathon or join a CrossFit “box” to reap the benefits of physical activity for your body (if you’re interested in either, though, check out our article on CrossFit). The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week and strength training twice a week for important health benefits. Take a brisk 20-minute walk once a day and do some squats, push-ups and lunges twice a week; once you feel your brain release those endorphins you’ve heard so much about, you’ll feel the stress melt off your body like butter and you’ll be encouraged to increase the amount of exercise you do. Multitask and take your dog for a walk; they need exercise, too. Don’t have a dog? Get one. Everyone loves puppies.
None of these tips doing the trick? Clever Abby has a remedy that’ll be sure to keep your spirits merry and bright.