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7 Tips to Relieve Holiday Stress

While this 'tis the time of the year to be merry, for many it is a season of stress, anxiety and even depression. Which can lead us to act in ways we are sure to regret later, resort to bad old habits and miss out on the joys this time of the year is supposed to bring.

So, in an attempt to help YOU get through this season feeling grateful, joyous and relaxed, I wanted to share a few tips to help you relieve any stress you may be feeling.

1. Take Calm Down Breaks.

Soon after you wake up, close your eyes, take several deep breaths and meditate or just relax. Imagine yourself in a beautiful place, think of a happy memory or visualize yourself succeeding at a cherished goal. Quieting down your mind before you begin your day can help it get off to a great start and help things go better throughout your day. Whenever you get stressed out, anxious or feel overwhelmed during the day, take quick relaxation breaks of 1-5 minutes to calm yourself down. Conscious, slow breathing can help you when you’re feeling frustrated with your kids, overwhelmed by your to-do list or waiting in line at Target.

2. Look For Reasons To Be Grateful.

Every day, make it a goal to find 5 things that you are thankful for that happened THAT day. These don't have to be big things, you could be thankful for traffic being better than usual, for a friend who brightened your day with a joke or for the warm cup of coffee you got to enjoy in peace. You'll be surprised to find that the more you look for things to be grateful for, the more you have to be grateful for. It can really help you get through this time of the year with a spirit of happiness and gratitude.

3. Move Your Body.

Perhaps one of the best ways to beat stress during the holidays or any other time is to exercise regularly. Research shows that physical activity not boosts your fitness and energy levels but can also elevate your moods. Exercise has been found to reduce anger, tension, fatigue and confusion. Despite the many demands on your time, this is not the season to stop exercising. In face, when regular exercisers are inactive, they begin to feel depressed and fatigued after just one week of inactivity. Rigorous physical activity of any kind pumps up production of endorphins, your body’s feel-good neurotransmitters and will help you be less stressed and happier.

4. Eat Whole Foods.

Inevitably, at this time of year, you’ll be tempted with sugary, empty-calorie “treats” just about wherever you go. But to be your most energetic, focused and happy self, it’s best to eat foods that grow on trees or in the ground (vegetables and fruits) and to choose healthy fats (such as olive oil and flax seeds), lean protein (such as fish and chicken) and legumes, nuts and seeds. Fueling your body with the right nutrients helps keep your MIND and body healthy and performing at its best.

5. Maintain Balance.

During the holidays, it’s easy to “fall off the wagon” and use—or over-use—alcohol, sugar and caffeine. It’s best to think before you treat your body like a trash can instead of a temple. The best way to stay true to the best you is to limit your consumption of such comfort or pleasure foods and drinks as apple pie, cookies, pasta and eggnog. When offered these and other “goodies,” try to take three to five “polite” bites and sips—and only after having a well-balanced meal with smart carbs (vegetables, fruits or whole grains), fats and protein. This way you don't feel deprived but you aren't over-doing it just to regret it later. Be aware that if you’re a sugar addict, you must be especially vigilant when it comes to desserts and quickie carbs.

6. Take Time For Yourself.

It's so easy to get consumed by all that you need to do for everything and everyone else this time of the year that you forget to do some nice things for yourself too. Come in to get pampered by me, get a pedicure, go in for a massage, take a long bath, read a book; whatever it is that helps you feel your best and rejuvenates you, make sure you schedule some time to do it. I personally recommend carving out some "me time" every week. We can't be our best self for everyone else unless we take care of ourselves first.

7. Be Generous.

One of the best ways to stay calm, content and cheerful this time of year is to act generously with your loved ones, co-workers and friends. This doesn’t have to mean you’re spending a lot of money. You can be generous with your compliments. You can generously offer to do a loved one’s dreaded errand. You can generously write a fun, short thank you note. When you are creative with your gifts and thank you’s, people will appreciate your real, heartfelt sentiments.

I hope these tips help you enjoy this wonderful time of the year more fully. Wishing you and yours the most joyous holiday.

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