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Stressed – How to Survive the Holidays

I don’t know about you, but this is definitely one of my most favorite times of the year! I absolutely LOVE the holidays and everything that goes with them!  The purchasing of gifts for friends and family, holiday-themed crafts with my munchkin, paleo baking and candy making, wrapping the gifts and making big fancy bows for them and being with family!  For me, this time of year is not stressful at all.  Seriously.  I know that’s not the case for most though.  Wanna know how I take the stress out of it so I can truely just enjoy each and every moment?  Thankfully, it’s not too hard either.

  1. Get as much restful sleep as you can – If you know me, you know I definitely don’t get the average 7 hours of recommended sleep. Heck, I’m lucky to get 5.5 hours of uninterrupted sleep.  The key – make the sleep you are getting be quality.  Make it count.  Five and a half hours of solid, sound, peaceful sleep is far better than 7 hours of tossing and turning.  Check out this quick read on how to get the most of your sleep – Top 5 Sleep Hacks.
  2. Keep exercising regularly! – This is one of the best ways to combat stress.  Light to moderate exercise actually helps lower the level of the main hormone associated with stress – cortisol.  When you’re active, you produce endorphins – your feel-good, pain-killing hormones.  When endorphins are in your system, they make it impossible for cortisol to be used by the cells in your body.  Guess what?  Exercise doesn’t have to be much either.  A study done at UCLA showed that just 10 minutes of brisk walking was enough to created this endorphin release, which ultimately decreased people’s pain levels, made them feel happier and created a more positive outlook on life that lasted at least 2 hours.  Who couldn’t benefit from that?  I know you can fit 10 minutes into your schedule somewhere.  I get up at 3am nearly every morning so I can get my workout in before my munchkin wakes up.  So, find a time and make it happen.  No excuses!
  3. Unplug from the world – Fill your free time with things that make you happy whether that’s the type of music you listen to, the shows you watch on TV, the people you choose to spend your free time with, etc.  Try to surround yourself with happiness.  Have you ever heard the saying, “Your day goes the way the corners of your mouth turn”?  This is so simple yet so powerful!  We all have crud in our lives that we’re dealing with, it’s how you choose to react/respond to this crud that makes your life easier or more difficult.  If you make an active effort and focusing on the good in any and all situations, you’ll notice that you aren’t as stressed, angry, frustrated, grumpy, etc.  The more you choose to focus on the good, the easier it will become and the less life events will “take you out’.  The choice is yours!
  4. Make Lists – I LOVE making lists!  They help keep me on task and it’s rewarding to be able to check off each and every item as they’re completed too.  I’m not just talking about the grocery store lists either.  I always do grocery lists because it helps me not forget any of the items we’re really needing and, if I make sure I stick to what’s on the lists, I don’t end up derailed and spending more than I had expected. That second part can be really helpful at this time of year with the added spending on foods and gifts for the holidays.  To give you an idea of my lists, here are some that I generally make up.  I have the master list, which shows any and all things that need to be done, completed and by when.  From this list, I will break things down into weekend lists.  There is no way I’m getting things done and accomplished during my work week, thus the weekend lists.  The weekend lists detail out what projects and errands need to be accomplished for that weekend.  If shopping needs to be done, you guessed it, there’s a specific lists for shopping.  Hunter, my munchkin, even is aware of this list.  He always asks me where’s the list and what’s on it when we go grocery shopping.  Ha!  For me, breaking the master list down into smaller lists makes the tasks that need to be completed not so overwhelming.  I need to have the master list for the whole picture, but then I break it down to the smaller, more managable, and far less stressful lists.  Keeps me on task and also helps me see where I can fit last minute obligations in if need be.  If you’re not a list maker, try it.  You might just find a new system that helps you decompress.
  5. Give your Stress glands some extra love this time of year – Your stress glands are the adrenal glands.  They sit just on top of the kidneys on both sides.  These babies have a lot of responsibilities but are most know for putting the body into “flight or fight” mode when we experience stress.  The challenge for the adrenals is that we’re nearly constantly under stress to one degree or another anymore and they never get a break.  They never get out of “flight or fight’ mode to be able to handle their other major responsibilities that influence every system in the body.  How do you give them some extra love?  The challenge at this time of year is in our food.  The adrenals are not fans of SUGAR or CAFFEINE.  Yikes!!  Now what?  If avoiding these 2 drug-like substances is nearly impossible, then try to at least modify how much you’re consuming of them.  Sugar is the most addictive substance known to man and creates extreme levels of inflammation in the body when consumed.  Caffeine is the most commonly used drug in the United States.  Another challenge, if you’re adrenals are weaked or even exhausted, they make you crave more simple carbohydrate (sweet tooth or salt tooth) and leave you feeling so fatigued that you’re constantly reaching for a pick-me-up.  Okay, okay.  If this suggestion is just not even doable til after the holidays, then focus on adding in the good for the adrenals.  What is this you ask?  You need to be consuming enough good fats – coconut oil, grass-fed butter, avocado oil, ghee – and cholesterol – whole eggs.  These nutrients are needed for your body to produce hormones in general.  I take an adrenal support as well regularly to ensure these little gems are adequately being fed all of the nutrients needed for proper functioning.  These are my favorites – adrenal boost and recovery.  You can also ask the person in charge of the vitamin/nutrition section at your natural healthfood store for their recommended adrenal support.
  6. Meditate or use other techniques for decompressing from stress and do them regularly.  For me, this is handled via running.  The only way I can get into what I would call a meditative state is to run.  The weather hasn’t stopped me either.  I have a treadmill in the basement but get out on the weekend as much as possible.  This is how I check out.  Not good at meditating?  Maybe enjoy a peaceful epsom salt, fresh ginger slices or any other essential oil soak in the tub.  Go for a walk in the great outdoors.  Getting out into nature is a great way to decompress.  Enjoy a good book.  Sip on some chamomille tea.  Whatever helps you chill out, make it a daily priority.  (Notice I didn’t recommend alcohol here either.  Sorry, aside from a glass to 2 of red wine per night, most alcohols cause more harm than good and can really interfere with sleep)

This list could go on yet, but these are some of the ways that have worked best for me to really just enjoy each and every moment of the holidays and the rest of the year for that matter.  Do you have a great technique for decompressing around the holidays?  We would love to hear about it and share with the rest of our readers.  Please visit our facebook page and comment on this blog’s link.  Thank you and enjoy!

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