It’s okay, I’ll say what you are thinking, “The holidays aren’t always smooth sailing.” It’s a time of cheer and laughter…until the beloved in-laws show up early or the pie doesn’t bake all the way through. Surviving the holidays takes planning, stamina, and financial sacrifice. During this busy time of year, we could all use a little extra love. Here are our “Top 3 Tricks to Reduce Stress During the Holidays:”
#1 Don’t Set Expectations
Be realistic about what you expect from yourself and others. A study from the University College of London indicates that setting low expectations may be the key to happiness. Neuroscientist Robb Rutledge stated, “Happiness depends not on how well things are going but whether things are going better or worse than expected.” (1) Don’t get caught up in perfection. If your plans don’t go the way you thought they would, take a deep breath and focus on the truly important things, like family. Be open to the idea that anything can happen and when something goes well, celebrate the win.
#2 Watch your Sugar Intake
Studies have shown that high sugar intake can affect individuals who are at risk for depression and anxiety. (2) Blood sugar highs and lows can negatively impact mood, learning, and memory. In addition, sugar also increases inflammation. Keeping a clear mind can help you feel your best during times of stress. When you are surrounded by holiday treats it is especially difficult to avoid sweet foods. You can set yourself up for success by starting your day with a high protein breakfast and include satiating fats in your meals. Try an egg on whole wheat toast, paired with an avocado. You can also support your body with a Chromium Picolinate supplement. Chromium is an essential mineral that aids glucose and carbohydrate metabolism. Chromium absorption in the body can be reduced by up to 35% for individuals with diets high in refined sugar. (3)
#3 Don’t Sacrifice Sleep
Sleep is the time that your body can recover from day-to-day activities. A University of Pennsylvania study found that when limited to 4 ½ hours of sleep, subjects felt more stressed, angry, sad, and exhausted. (4) Mood and sleep have a two-way relationship: sleep can affect mood and mood can affect sleep. When you feel anxious and stressed the quality of your sleep can change. Focus on creating a sleep schedule and stick to it. When your bed time gets close, prepare your body by finding ways to relax. Take a warm bath, turn down the lights, or slip into your pajamas a little early. Consider turning off electronics: the American Sleep Association warns that light coming from electronic devices disrupts circadian rhythm and melatonin production. (5)
Above all, the holidays are a time to gather with friends and family. Focus on the positives and don’t let the small things get in the way of celebrating. Have fun, let loose, and be merry!