Real talk: the holidays, while filled with joy and cheer, can do a number on your zen. Between holiday shopping and overcommitting and overindulging, there are a thousand different ways for stress to manifest on a daily basis. My method? Nip it in the bud before it even gets started. A few of my foolproof stress-busting faves to help me keep it together through Christmas:
Start with a smoothie:
People often don’t realize how closely tied food is to both physical and mental health. Your food is your fuel. Starting my day with a fruit and veggie loaded smoothie is an absolute MUST for me – especially during the holidays when it seems like we’re off to a different party or get together every day! Not only does it keep me going until lunch, but by filling myself up with all kinds of good phytonutrients and vitamins and fiber, I can successfully crowd out all the Christmas cookies and party foods, keeping my indulgences to a minimum.
The power of meditation is so underrated. Regular practice literally rewires your brain to naturally handle stress like a champ. When I’m having a rough day or am feeling particularly stressed or frazzled, I like to find a quiet spot to take a little pause, breathe and get in a little mini meditation, even if just for a few minutes. A good app to try if you’re new to the practice: Take a Break. It will guide you through a quick, little 7- or 13-minute meditation to soothing background sounds of nature. Trust me, it works.
Taking meditation a step further, nothing calms and centers me quite like yoga. It doesn’t matter how crazy my day has been – when I step on that mat and focus on my breath and really connect with my mind and body, I feel happier, calmer and less stressed. In other words, I’m much less likely to explode over holiday-shopping gridlock.
Gratitude is another underestimated, but magical stress buster that I absolutely swear by. This time of year, we tend to get so fixated on finding that perfect gift or planning the perfect party, that we sometimes lose sight of what really matters, the things we already have to be grateful for. The benefits of practicing gratitude are many, ranging from lowering depression and boosting self esteem, to improving sleep and cutting down on aches and pains. Whether you’re keeping a gratitude journal, or just setting aside a couple minutes each night to reflect on three things you’re grateful for today, you’ll definitely up your happiness factor.
Get your zzzs:
A surefire way I lull myself to sleep: a hot bath before bed. As cliche as it may sound, there’s a reason baths have earned their relaxing reputation. Your body temperature naturally dips a bit in the evening, signaling your body to get ready for sleep. When you linger in a hot bath and your body temperature consequently raises slightly, the dip in body temperature afterward is even greater, thus setting you up for deep sleep. Boom. Sweet dreams.
What are your favorite tips for staying zen through the holidays? Share in the comments! I always love trying out new stress relievers.