Now that Thanksgiving is in the rearview mirror, the holiday hustle is in full swing.
Between our inboxes overflowing with sales, all the shopping lists and an influx of social gatherings, the most wonderful time of the year can also be downright overwhelming.
That is why it is so important to take of yourself during the holiday season. And whether you need to set boundaries with challenging family members or just take a few really deep breaths, we have tips to help you find peace amongst the hustle and bustle.
Clear your mind with diaphragmatic breathing
People always say to take a deep breath if you’re stressed. But how you take that breath is just as important. And if you’re only breathing in and out through your chest, you’re not gaining the full benefits of a cleansing breath.
Breathing from the diaphragm takes practice, but it is a great tool to have in stressful situations. Learn how to take a diaphragmatic breath here.
Pay someone a compliment
The next time you’re in line at the grocery store or sitting down for lunch at a restaurant, pay someone a compliment!
Giving and receiving the simplest acts of kindness activates the pleasure zone of your brain and releases a chemical called oxytocin, which regulates social interactions and emotion. In other words, you feel the warm fuzzies.
Learn more about other simple joy boosters here.
Learn to set boundaries
When we think of boundaries, we may picture walls or some other kind of fortification we build around ourselves to keep others out. But boundaries are not lines we draw-- they are a way of telling the world how we want to be treated.
Creating boundaries isn’t a solitary act: it is a dialogue you are starting that opens the door to more effective communication and, ultimately, stronger relationships. Think of boundaries as a way to reach the ideal relationship you want with a person.
Our guide to setting boundaries can help you navigate how to start, just in time for peak family gathering season.
Good news: if you’re on your feet running holiday errands, you are putting in some serious steps toward maintaining a healthy lifestyle! You don’t need a gym membership or fancy equipment to have exercise “count” and you’d be surprised how easily everyday movements can add up.
Exercise also offers plenty of mental health benefits, so don’t miss out on the opportunity to center yourself while keeping fit. Here are six easy ways to fold more movement into your day.
More than just a buzzy internet word, mindfulness is the act of paying attention to all of your senses and feelings. As research on mental health continues to grow, evidence has shown tuning in to your senses can help reduce stress and anxiety, improve concentration, balance emotions and increase empathy.
So, don’t just gulp down your coffee: savor it. Or take the time to sit down at the mall and enjoy the holiday decorations instead of running off to your next checklist item. Our guide to mindfulness can help you get started.
Take advantage of free and low-cost mental health resources
From our doctors’ visits to social media feeds, we are more aware of our mental health than ever before. Over the last several years, the conversation around normalizing mental health care has widely expanded.
However, for millions of Americans, mental health resources remain inaccessible, largely due to costs and the lack of information around free or low-cost care. But if you need some extra support to help navigate this holiday season, you have options.
This guide offers a wide array of mental health resources, from help hotlines to where to find support groups in your community.
Snuggle your pet
Are you one of 70% of American households that have a pet? If so, your best buddy is more than just a companion. Pets offer many benefits to your well-being, too!
In fact, by petting or holding your animal friend, you are lowering the amount of cortisol (the stress hormone) in your body. This creates a ripple effect across your entire well-being, allowing your heart rate to lower, your mind to slow down and muscles to relax.
For more information on the health benefits of pets, take a look at this article.
Avoid the urge to doomscroll
Advancements in technology have made it easier than ever to access information in real time. But it can also become quite easy get be caught up in a cycle of doomscrolling, which is the act of continuously reading bad news or commentary, even when it makes you upset, disheartened or depressed.
But by setting screen time limits and taking stock of what accounts and people you follow on social media, you can help make your feed (and your mental space) a more peaceful place during the holiday season and beyond.
For more information on the science behind doomscrolling, check out this article.
The bottom line: While an exciting time of the year, the holiday hustle can also take its toll on our mental well-being. Make sure you carve out some time to find peace and reset every now and again.