The holiday season has arrived, and unfortunately for many of us, so has the holiday stress. An increase in stress during the holiday season comes from numerous areas in our life. These added stressors include busier schedules, less personal time, increased spending and time spent traveling. Over time, stress can have negative effects on our body, physically, mentally and socially. It is key to practice and follow positive coping mechanisms when dealing with stress, especially around the holiday season.
Two Types of Stress Coping Mechanisms
Most stress coping mechanisms fall into two categories, healthy and unhealthy. Being able to differentiate the two is important when it comes to practicing positive stress management techniques and setting yourself up for success!
Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms:
· Emotional eating
· Consuming alcohol and/or other drugs
· Over spending
· Verbally or physically harming another person
Healthy Coping Mechanisms:
· Well-balanced nutrition
· Deep breathing
· Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Holiday Weight Gain
The average person gains between one – five pounds between the holidays. As alarming as these statics are, there are many techniques you can practice in order to avoid excess weight gain, starting with nutrition and exercise.
Healthy Holiday Eating Tips
· Make time for regular, healthy meals to help avoid overeating at holiday parties.
· Focus on friends at social gatherings, rather than food.
· Keep healthy snacks handy.
· Avoid excessive caffeine, alcohol and sugar.
· Don’t grocery shop on an empty stomach.
· Choose foods packaged in individual serving sizes.
Ways to Get in More Exercise
· Split up your strength training routines.
· Commit to half of your normal routine.
· When you can’t do anything else, walk.
· Use your lunch break for exercise, rather than just eating.
· Increase the intensity of your workout.
· Set realistic goals!
Holiday Stress Relief
When stressed, excessive tension and pressure is added to body physically and mentally. By practicing deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation and visualization you are able to cope with stress in an effective manner.
Steps to Deep Breathing
1. Slowly breathe in, filling in your lunges as much as possible.
2. Let your stomach relax and expand.
3. Hold your breath for a few seconds, then slowly exhale until your lungs feel empty.
4. Repeat 5-10 times.
Visualization, like daydreaming, allows your mind to take a mental break and focus on something positive.
1. Close your eyes and image you’re someplace you enjoy.
2. Bring all your senses into play.
3. Allow your imagination to transport you to a place where you are relaxed and calm. In a few minutes, your mind will be cleared, if only briefly, of the stressful clutter of everyday living.
In a few minutes, your mind will be cleared, if only briefly, of the stressful clutter of everyday living.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
1. Sit comfortably with your back straight, or lie down.
2. First, tense one major muscle group in your body (face, shoulders, arms, chest, back, stomach, legs, feet).
3. Hold for a few seconds, then release the tension.
4. Notice the contrast between the tight and relaxed muscles.
5. Choose a second muscle group and repeat the same process.
6. Go through all the muscle groups in your body from head to toe. You can immediately feel and appreciate the relaxed feeling in your body.
The holiday season often comes with extra expenses from purchasing gifts for loved ones and food for holiday parties, to added travel costs. By practicing effective budgeting techniques, you are able manage the added stress that comes from an increase in expenses.
Budgeting for the Holidays
· Create a holiday budget.
· Avoid impulsive purchases.
· Consider last year’s expenses.
· Shop early and compare prices.
· Be creative with gift giving.
· Take a part-time job.
· Plan ahead!