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The holidays are here! For some of you, that means good food, fun hangouts, and one-of-a-kind family traditions. But as great as all of that sounds, many of you might find the holiday season incredibly stressful.
A recent survey found that 88% of people consider the festive period the most stressful time of the year. Over three-quarters of respondents also claimed to feel holiday stress as early as November, with almost half admitting to overburdening themselves in a bid to create the ”perfect” holiday. One-third of people surveyed went even further, stating that they don’t enjoy the holidays at all anymore.
Freeing yourself from unnecessary pressure is essential to making the most of what is supposed to be a time of joy. But knowing how to stay stress-free during the holidays is about more than simply enjoying the season; it’s important for your health too. Stress can negatively impact your emotions, reasoning ability, and even your physical health. So, reducing your stress levels is crucial to staying both happy and healthy during the holiday season.
The importance of reducing holiday stress
Excessive stress can negatively impact all aspects of your mental and physical wellbeing. It has a significant range of manifestations, many mirroring the symptoms of other medical conditions.
Emotional symptoms of stress include irritability, low self-esteem, a sense of being overwhelmed, or even feeling depressed. It can affect cognitive functioning, causing forgetfulness, difficulty focusing, constant worrying, and poor judgment. Behavioral shifts, such as unhealthy changes in appetite, nail-biting, nervous fidgeting, procrastination, and increased alcohol or drug use, are also common.
Physically, stress can also cause a vast range of ailments, including, but not limited to, headaches and muscle tension, lethargy, stomach problems, and insomnia. People who are continuously stressed may experience chest pains, an irregular heartbeat, diminished libido, tremors, cold sweats, and become more susceptible to colds and infections.
It’s essential to keep an eye out for these symptoms and take proactive steps to de-stress if you detect them. And better yet, try to avoid stress altogether. There are plenty of ways to get ahead of it and stay stress-free, even during the chaos of the holidays.
Four natural ways to stay stress-free during the holidays
There are many ways to beat stress, but the best results require a holistic approach that’s both sustainable and healthy. This path will enable you to prevent the onset of stress rather than simply treat its symptoms. And what’s even better is there are several natural ways to de-stress that you can easily incorporate into your holiday schedule.
1. Use herbal tinctures to enhance your mood
Herbs such as American skullcap, passionflower, kava, and oat straw can help you reduce stress. American skullcap, for example, is believed to enhance the mood and alleviate anxiety by stimulating the same gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) neurotransmitter targeted by many anti-anxiety medications. Purple passionflower also helps increase the brain’s GABA levels, and research suggests that a daily dose of purple passionflower tea could relieve anxiety and reduce sleep irregularities.
Kava is a generations-old herbal remedy, but researchers have recently discovered that it contains an active ingredient, known as kavain, that may stimulate mood receptors and reduce anxiety levels. However, they’re still trying to better understand the connection. Oat straw is another traditional remedy for stress that researchers are now learning more about. New studies suggest that it may enhance your mood by inhibiting the PDE4 enzyme linked to stress, anxiety, and depression.
2. Use CBD Oil to alleviate anxiety
CBD is believed to reduce anxiety by interacting with receptors found in the central and peripheral nervous systems. By interacting with the CB1 and CB2 receptors, it naturally increases the body’s serotonin levels by decreasing the rate at which serotonin breaks down.
Low serotonin levels are frequently linked to conditions like anxiety and depression, and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Zoloft and Prozac are regularly prescribed to combat these types of disorders. However, a growing body of research suggests CBD as a potential alternative, providing a more natural solution to consumers.
3. Create inexpensive and stress-free holiday traditions
Financial pressure is one of the biggest causes of stress during the holidays. But you can reduce the burden by creating new traditions that are inexpensive and fun.
For example, have a family game night or movie night, which are simple activities that you can do from home for free. Or to get out of the house, you could take a Christmas lights drive. Simply strap everyone into the car and drive around the local neighborhoods admiring the lights and decorations.
Baking and crafts are also great ways to spend time with your family. You can make homemade holiday cards or decorate a gingerbread house with everyone creating their own little piece.
There’s an endless amount of simple and inexpensive ways to bond with your loved ones. Just get creative and have fun so that you don’t have to stress about finances!
4. Adopt healthy and holistic habits
From exercising and eating healthier to meditating on gratitude, there are several habits you can adopt to improve your overall wellbeing and reduce stress. Studies have shown yoga to be especially effective at modulating stress response systems, finding it to alleviate stress, anxiety, ease respiration, lower blood pressure, and reduce the heart rate. But if yoga isn’t your thing, other forms of exercise are still beneficial, and strengthening your body through physical activity will enhance your ability to cope with stress.
However, implementing good nutrition is equally important. Try to avoid caffeine, as it increases the levels of certain stress-inducing hormones and mimics their effects. Instead, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, whose nutrients provide extra protection against the immune-system-depleting effects of stress. Also, opt for complex carbohydrates—their gradual release of sugar will help you maintain steady blood sugar levels and stimulate serotonin release.
Practicing strategies to improve your mental wellbeing will also have a significant impact on your stress and happiness levels, and an increasing amount of research suggests the benefits of gratitude meditation. Experiencing gratitude is shown to alleviate depression, lower blood pressure, improve immune function. And cultivating this feeling can have considerable mental health benefits. Gratitude meditation requires nothing more than focusing on the things and people you appreciate, and there may be no better time to try it than the season of goodwill.
Have the holiday season you deserve
Given the way stress affects your health, it’s always important to stay stress-free. But it’s especially so during the holidays. A time that’s supposed to be full of joy can have a harmful impact on your wellbeing, but only if you let it. With just a handful of natural stress-beating techniques, it’s possible to overcome the holiday chaos and have the festive season you and your loved ones deserve.