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5 Tips for a Stress-Free Holiday

It’s mid-December…how are you holding up?

We all look forward to the holiday season, with its festive atmosphere and family gatherings, but the truth is that this time of year also comes with its fair share of stress. Between the shopping lines and shipping lines, the travel planning and event planning, and the self-imposed pressure to try to fulfill everyone’s dearest holiday expectations, by this point in the month, you may find yourself untangling a string of lights with a noticeable lack of holiday spirit.

It happens to us all…but don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be this way. Here are 5 good tips for keeping your zen during this magical, high-strung season.

1. Get Out for a Walk

This tip is #1 because it checks several boxes at once. You get moving, which releases uplifting endorphins and blunts stress hormones. You get natural sunlight therapy to help prevent Seasonal Affective Disorder, plus your daily dose of vitamin D, which stimulates the production of feel-good serotonin. You also get a little me-time and a chance to clear your head.

If you can take your walk in a natural setting, even better — studies show that taking in natural surroundings refreshes the brain, lowers stress hormones, and even boosts immunity.

If the outdoor weather is just too intimidating, you can still check a couple of these boxes by doing some indoor exercises and taking a vitamin D supplement.

2. Embrace Some Shortcuts

It’s a busy time, but remember, you don’t have to take care of everything by yourself. Take advantage of free gift-wrapping at stores and shopping centers. Order some side dishes from your favorite grocery deli. Enlist a family member to help address card envelopes. If a gift needs pre-assembly, get the store’s experts to do it — the hours of hassle you’ll save will be well worth the cost.

3. Turn Off Your Phone Alerts

Those frequent interruptions from your noisy pocket device pump you with adrenaline and keep you in constant fight-or-flight mode. If you’re starting to feel stressed, allow yourself to be unavailable for a while. Put on some happy or chill-out tunes and just enjoy the present moment.

4. Eat Grains, Nuts, and Greens

Of course, you’re going to indulge a little at this time of year — just don’t forget to eat some healthy things, too. Otherwise, that extra sugar and alcohol is going to have your blood sugar spiking and crashing, which can throw your hormones out of whack and cause mood swings.

Eating complex carbs like oatmeal, quinoa, or lentils will help balance out your blood sugar, boost serotonin levels, and give you hours of grounding energy. Whole grains and nuts are also a good source of magnesium, which helps relax muscles and reduce anxiety. And green veggies like kale and brussel sprouts are rich in vitamin C, which helps fight stress and keep your immune system strong.

5. Shift Your Perspective

Nothing makes your personal problems look small like helping the less fortunate. If you are prone to the holiday blues, consider volunteering for a local food or gift drive, or grab some friends together to sing carols at a senior home. You’ll see the holiday spirit in action and get warm fuzzies knowing you’ve made a difference for someone who really appreciates it.

You’ll also probably experience a burst of gratitude for all the good things in your life. Take a minute to make a list of those things, and read it every night before you go to sleep — research shows that focusing on gratitude can significantly improve your sense of well-being and life satisfaction.

Wishing you a happy and stress-free holiday season, from all of us at NatureWise!

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