• By Dana Sparks

Five Simple Steps for a Stress-Free Holiday

December 12, 2013

White sparkling star ornaments on silver strings with dark green background

Stress is triggered by a variety of situations, and although the holidays are meant to be enjoyable, it can be a time of year that creates anxiety and high stress levels for many people. So, how can you keep your cool over the next few weeks? Stephanie Kivi, M.D., a family physician at Mayo Clinic Health System, offers five helpful strategies to send stress packing.

  1. Move. Physical activity can relieve stress. Movement releases feel-good endorphins directly into the blood stream, which can improve your mood. Whether it’s going for a light jog or taking the stairs a few times during the day, the key is to get moving.
  2. Breathe. Just three minutes of deep breathing can turn stress into a feeling of tranquility. Not to mention, deep breathing brings oxygen to energy-building muscles, making all of your cells happy.
  3. Be positive. Long lines at the store or traffic jams can put anyone in a bad mood. Instead of getting grouchy, try this simple exercise: replace any negative thought with three positive thoughts. Research shows that this can lead to an increased life span, immunity against illnesses, and physical and psychological well-being.
  4. Laugh. Laughter causes physical changes in the body that promote health. Watch a funny movie or TV show with your family and feel the stress dissipate with each chuckle.
  5. Express gratitude. Being grateful doesn’t mean denying what is going on in our lives, but rather focusing on all of the good that surrounds us. It’s refreshing to count your blessings as opposed to being negative. 

Cheer and enjoyment during the holiday season don’t need to be lost because of stress. Try these five strategies when you’re feeling overwhelmed or emotionally drained. You’ll quickly realize that peace and serenity are much more fulfilling that stress.

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