• By Dana Sparks

Mayo Mindfulness: Slow down for self-care during the holidays

December 12, 2018

a group of happy diverse women, smiling and sharing cups of coffee together

There are all kinds of stress and anxieties during the holidays. Strained relationships, unrealistic expectations, financial difficulties — the list can go on.

Stress is a normal psychological and physical reaction to the demands of life. A small amount of stress can be good, motivating you to perform well. But multiple challenges can push you beyond your ability to cope, especially during the holidays.

Dr. Beth Rush, a Mayo Clinic neuropsychologist, says that when you are stressed, it becomes that much more important to take care of yourself. Sleep, eat well, make sure you’re exercising. Look for signs of stress in your life.

"I think self-care is important year-round. If you’re feeling frustrated, short on time, impatient, you have to go back to the basics of: 'Have I done anything for myself today? Should I take a minute? Do I have to be the one who does it all?,'" says Dr. Rush. “We tend to think of self-care as always going out and doing something like getting our nails done or going to the gym, but sometimes self-care is about just pausing. I think that’s something we recognize is becoming more important: learning how to slow down.”

Dr. Rush says self-care can be as simple as being still at your desk, breathing, shutting your eyes, and closing out all the other things you’re thinking about and not responding.

Watch Dr. Rush talks about slowing down for self-care during the holidays.

Journalists: Broadcast-quality sound bites with Dr. Rush are in the downloads at the end of the post. Please ‘Courtesy: Mayo Clinic News Network.’ 

Try these five strategies when you’re feeling overwhelmed or emotionally drained.

  1. Move.
    Physical activity can relieve stress. Movement releases feel-good endorphins 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 your life, but rather focusing on all of the good that surrounds you. It’s refreshing to count your blessings as opposed to being negative.
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