Ahhh… Christmas. Tis the season for long lines, parking lots which guarantee 10k steps before 9am, and hostile, sweaty folks wearing sequined festive sweaters who just want to “get out of this madhouse.” I feel the stress all over my entire body, so that led to me search for Christmas stress relief that is do-able, won’t hurt my credit cards, and will restore my peace of mind.
In 1967, psychiatrists Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe decided to study whether or not stress contributes to illness. This led to the creation of the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale. Select which of the 43 life events have affected you in the previous two years and tally up your score. Two Christmases is an automatic 24 points, which is why Christmas Stress Relief is essential. (This also explains why everyone goes back to work sick after Christmas.)
Christmas Stress Relief 101
1. Take a walk. Walking is the be all end of all of stress relief and my favorite. I slip on my sneakers and hit the road and my stress level dictates my speed. Some days it’s a casual stroll, others I’m an 80’s power walker looking to “feel the burn.”
2. Meditate while standing in line. The line is how long? You’ve been waiting what? Take a deep breath and allow your body to relax with each one. Feel your muscles loosen and stress melt away. If that doesn’t work, picture everyone you meet dressed like an elf and dancing for Santa.
3. Skip the party. Do you dread the influx of holiday invites to celebrate the season with 50 of your closest acquaintances? It’s okay to say no. Don’t decide not to go after you’ve RSVP’d yes unless it’s a true emergency. There are only so many emergencies in life.
4. Ignore the dust bunnies. Friends don’t care about dust bunnies.
5. Cut back on gift giving. Spending time with the people I love is much more satisfying than opening another sweater I will never wear. Happiness does not come from an avalanche of gifts.
6. Shop online. While I’m a huge proponent of shopping local, nothing makes me happier during Christmas than UPS, Fed-Ex, and the US Postal Service pulling up to my front door and dropping off packages I ordered pants-less.
7. Drink decaf. Coffee is my everything. However, the caffeine in it raises your heart rate, dehydrates and can give you the jitters. I’m trying to take my own advice and avoid the my afternoon caffeine fixes and leave it to early mornings. That being said, a warm cup of decaf at night with a couple of Christmas cookies hits the spot.
8. Avoid excess alcohol consumption. Like coffee, alcohol dehydrates, but it also makes your liver work overtime to process it. I like to stick with sparkling water when I’m at holiday parties and leave the cocktails to evenings in with my husband.
9. Keep your healthy habits. The holidays means parties with rich food, eggnog, cocktails, and enough sweet stuff to make your dentist dream about buying a new car. Staying healthy means sticking to those healthy habits we keep during the year, so make sure you get plenty sleep, exercise, and clean eating.