The holidays are meant to be a time to celebrate, relax, and spend time with your family. But with all the planning and traveling the holidays can also be stressful. Whether your stress comes from financial worries, hectic schedules, or choosing gifts its important to take some time to relax and appreciate another year coming to an end.
To add to our normal holiday stress we also have the coronavirus to worry about. Some people with increased risk of infection may be staying home for the first time this Christmas. Others may be traveling but cant see their whole family. Whatever your plans it’s undeniable that COVID has taken a toll on us all these holidays.
Because of the stress and uncertainty this holiday season we wanted to share our favorite ways to safely relax and enjoy the cold this year! With Christmas later this week and new years just around the corner we wanted to leave everyone with 10 simple coronavirus-safe ways to relax this year!
10 ways to eliminate holiday stress
1. Play some holiday music
It may sound simple but listening to some holiday music can actually help your body relax. Listening to music can activate multiple cognitive processes in your brain. Not all of these processes are completely understood but a 2013 study found that many of these processes influence stress-related functions in our brains. Some of the side effects of music’s influence can include increased coping abilities, and a perceived change in stress levels. Both of these effects allow for better stress management.
In addition to music’s direct connection to stress you can listen to music at almost any time. Some of our other suggestions can require people to stop and take a minute but music can just play in the background. From getting ready in the morning to your daily commute to preparing for bed music can always add to your day. Here are a few times that listening to music during this holiday time may help:
- Cleaning / Decorating – By listening to up beat and seasonal music while you clean and decorate it becomes easier to view your work as a treat. Their is nothing like a good rendition of deck the halls to make your holiday prep more fun!
- Travel – With the coronavirus disease affecting rules and regulation many people are probably staying home this year. However, for some people travel is unavoidable. By playing music while driving or sitting on a plane you can pass time without stressing about whatever work might be at the end of your travels.
2. Watch holiday movies
A lot of holiday stress can come when we forget all the good things the holiday season has to offer. And one of the best things this holiday season has to offer is great movies! Whether it’s just you or your whole family don’t forget to spend time and watch your favorite seasonal movies.
Christmas movies may feel sappy but they can actually make us feel happy! According to the media psychologist Dr. Pamela Rutledge, holiday movies can actually increase dopamine production. Many Christmas movies focus on the importance of being thankful, family, relationships, and restoring hope. With such uplifting themes these movies can have a profound effect on our moods. Many Christmas movies also focus on humor. By causing just a little laughter these films can improve stress a great deal!
3. Start Baking
Baking is another great way to relieve stress these holidays. If you know any bakers you probably know that they will find any excuse to start preheating their ovens. Professor Donna Pincus, an associate professor of psychological and brain sciences at Boston University believes that many people are drawn to baking as a way to express themselves.
Baking allows people to create something new. Professor Donna explained to HuffPost “There’s a lot of literature for connection between creative expression and overall wellbeing.” Because baking is a great way to express yourself it is also a great way to eliminate stress. Baking is also a great way to stay active and stay aware of the time instead of letting the day slip by!
4. Recreational Reading
Reading is a regular part of peoples lives but most people only read because it is required by their jobs. When is the last time you read a book for pleasure? Reading for pleasure is a healthy way to escape from the stress of every day life.
A study from 2009 found that reading for pleasure can reduce stress by up to 68%. Reading can also reduce stress faster than other methods of destressing. By pulling your mind away from everything going on in your life it becomes much easier to relax. And the best part is that you can read any book you want. Many people feel obligated to read large and complicated books but anything will count. As long as you enjoy what you are reading the content really doesn’t matter. The important thing to remember is that setting aside time to read for pleasure is a great way to relax this year.
5. Spend Time Volunteering
With all that going on this year it can be beneficial to spend time and volunteer in your local community. This is the season of giving and spending time giving back can make a big difference with your mental health! Studies have shown that volunteering makes people feel more socially connected. An increased feeling of connection can help eliminate loneliness which combats depression.
Volunteering can also help you stay active this holiday season. many people find that physically working to help your community helps lower stress levels. However, with more people traveling this season its important to stay safe! For people who have an increased risk of COVID or someone of increased risk in their family it may be better to simply stay home. The Coronavirus disease is is still a risk this season so we recommend checking out 10 ways to help your community during COVID through AmeriCorps.
6. Walk around the neighborhood and look at Christmas lights!
Don’t forget to enjoy the decorations this year. By walking around a nearby neighborhood you can stay active and spend time with your family. Exercise is also a great way to reduce seasonal stress.
A walk may not feel very relaxing but there are a lot of medical benefits to staying active. Staying active helps produce endorphins which leaves you feeling much better than just laying around. Going on regular walks is also a good way to improve your confidence and sense of satisfaction over the holidays. People who stay active also have an easier time relaxing thanks to the sense of accomplishment that comes with regular exercise.
7. Order takeout to skip cooking for a day
Its important to stay active during the holiday season but that shouldn’t stop you from staying in and order takeout with the family once or twice. The WLD program focuses not only on physical body health but also mental health. We understand that everyone needs a cheat day once in a while. As the holidays come to an end make sure to treat yourself. Even if you cant be with family this year you can still order in and spend that extra time doing what you want. Simply letting yourself relax for a few minutes can make a big difference this year.
8. Lower your expectations
this year is totally different from other years. We’re staying home to stay healthy and it’s okay if you don’t go crazy with baking cookies or hanging decorations. COVID is a serious concern this season and almost every family is spending time apart to stay healthy.
Because of all the craziness in 2020 its ok to accept that some things wont be perfect. It may be difficult to accept but we get this holiday time every year. Its better to skip on some of you favorite traditions once then lose out on years of fun and excitement in the future.
In addition to health and safety, sticking to a conventionally perfect Christmas in a nonconventional year can lead to a lot of unnecessary headache. It’s better to accept that things will be different and work with your family to find the best way to spend time together.
9. Get a good night’s sleep
With all that’s going on this season it can be tempting to lose sleep over holiday prep. However, losing sleep over anything is unhealthy and the holidays are probably the worst time to go into sleep debt! Not getting enough sleep can lead to decreased decision making abilities and increase to the likelihood of temptation. Most of the year this isn’t as much of an issue but the holidays generally have more foods and desserts that can tempt you throughout the day. When it comes to the holidays these temptations can cause unnecessary stress.
It can be hard to relax when you feel guilty from over indulging and sleep poor sleep can lead to weight gain which causes even more stress during the holidays.
Learn more about the relationship between sleep and weight loss with this Weight Loss Direct article!
10. Eat healthy meals
holiday foods are known to make you sluggish/bloated/tired so its important to mix healthy alternatives into your seasonal dinners. It can be more difficult to get all the vitamins and minerals you need during the winter season which puts a strain on your body. By targeting foods that help reduce stress you can set yourself up for a more relaxing holiday season.
By targeting foods that are full of vitamin C, complex carbohydrates, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids you can help reduce stress. These important nutrients are all essential when it comes to regulating cortisol, a stress hormone, and stabilizing blood pressure. Magnesium is also good for avoiding headaches and fatigue so the end of your year can be more relaxing!
this holiday season is different, but that’s okay. We’re all just doing our best! At Weight Loss Direct we understand that having a relaxing holiday isn’t always possible. However, by keeping these 10 tips in mind you can spend more time working towards a better more relaxing end to your year!
Weight Loss Direct is dedicated to ensuring our clients and community can make achievable and effective changes after every article we post. If you are interested in how to apply our expertise to your life just sign up and become a member!