It’s starting already… there are Holiday decorations at the local stores!!! Fall is here and the change of seasons marks the beginning of a four month stretch of holidays and stress. Here are five solid tips on reducing your stress between Halloween and New Year’s.
1- Get Solid Sleep in Terms of Quantity & Quality
Your body needs proper sleep so that it can rejuvenate itself every night. Since a normal sleep cycle lasts about 90 minutes, keep your sleep in 90 minute intervals (6, 7.5 or 9 hours) so you can wake more refreshed every day.
Almost as important, give yourself a consistent bedtime. Your body has a natural rhythm. The more consistent you are at going to bed, the more rested you will be.
If falling asleep is an issue for you, there are other steps you can take to help. Beyond the obvious advice to avoid caffeine 4 to 6 hrs before bedtime, create a sleep routine for yourself, give yourself some quiet time 20-30 minutes before bed. What you focus on during that time is what you will unconsciously think of all night. Similarly, don’t eat a large, heavy meal before bed and keep your bedroom relatively cool and well ventilated. On the nutrition side, you might want to try to have a light snack with protein (a glass of milk, sliced turkey on a rice cake) or a cup of chamomile tea to induce sleep.
2- Always take the healthiest eating choice
Stay away from telling yourself, “I can’t have that sweet,” it creates scarcity. An easier way to handle all of the treats, desserts, and drinks is to always take the healthiest choice. Instead of the double layer chocolate cake, take the chocolate chip cookie. Watch out for too much caffeine and sugars.
Keep your sanity and don’t diet during the holidays. Make it your goal to stay the same weight! There are so many treats, desserts, parties, and temptations. Eat and drink in moderation. Incidentally, there is a connection between overeating and being tired, so make sure you do get enough sleep, it’ll help you be in the frame of mind to make better choices.
3- Find a way to exercise, no excuses
Not only will it help you burn those extra calories you are bound to take in, but the body is made to move so we can feel better. Look for a way to physically move every day. You can find a 4-minute workout on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dXy3NjHtBSc&NR=1 It will boost your metabolism and help you feel better. Remember, where there is a will, there is a way. If you don’t make time for your body, your body will make you make time for it, in the way of colds, flu, and no energy.
4- Give yourself a Time-Out
Take a yoga class, learn to meditate, or put on that relaxing music for 5 minutes. When things get too crazy give yourself a time-out. There are many ways to do it. For some, taking a breather could mean taking a 15 minute walk around the block, giving yourself permission to sit and watch a specific TV show, or sneaking in 5-minutes of quiet time in your car in the parking lot. For others, it could mean making the commitment to “unplug” from all electronics for a night each week.
5- Plan ahead but stay flexible
Schedule your sleep, exercise, and time-outs for the next four months in your calendar right now, and make the commitment to stick to them. But, when things start to go crazy-busy, stay flexible in prioritizing the day. Don’t just let the scheduled de-stress time disappear. Immediately reschedule it. Stay proactive and flexible.
If you start feeling overwhelmed, “brain dump” everything that you need to do on a piece of paper and put a “label” on each line item. Decide if it’s “important and urgent”, “important but not urgent”, “urgent but not important” or “not urgent and not important”.
Classifying your to-dos, will help you decide what needs to be tackled or left on the schedule, and what can be pushed back or eliminated.
The whole period around the holidays can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be something you dread. Stress is best managed by being proactive. It’s often a response to overwhelm and a general sense of lack of control –too many things coming at you and too little time to complete them.
So choose to take back that control and manage the holiday stress by being proactive in your planning and setting yourself up with the coping skills you need to enjoy the holiday season.