There are less than two weeks until Christmas now, and an even shorter period of time before Hanukkah begins. And that means that the beginning of a new year is about three weeks away from arriving. Stressed yet? As enjoyable as this time of year can be, it can also be full of anxiety.
There’s holiday prep to worry about, of course: presents to buy, boxes to wrap, parties to go to. It all adds up to a lot to do. But beyond that, the end of the year can be a tough time for a lot of people. For many, the holidays bring with them a focus on difficult family relationships. For others, it’s stressful to maintain productivity and hit full-year objectives at work as the year comes to a close. And if you had goals in mind for 2014, heading into 2015 can be stressful if you feel like you haven’t quite hit the mark.
How do you overcome holiday stress? Like the rest of the year, no matter how busy you are, it’s important to regularly take some time out for self care. Here are three ways–backed by science!–to help yourself de-stress, relax, and enjoy the magical moments that can come along with the holiday season. (Or at least get through the not-so-magical ones with your sanity intact.)
Give Meditation a Try
Don’t dismiss meditation just because you’re not the type to sit completely still for a hour at a time. You can meditate anywhere, even with just five minutes of time. Try progressive relaxation, where you first tense and then release all the muscle groups in your body, from toes on up–research shows that it could help with chronic pain and stress management. Or download a meditation app like Omvana or Simply Being and use it once a day, whenever you get the chance. For example, take a ten-minute meditation break at work–doing so regularly could help with depression.
Fire Up the Holiday Tunes
Or whichever other songs help you get in a good frame of mind. Researchers have taken many approaches to looking at how music can affect our minds and bodies, and they’ve found some interesting things. For example, there is some evidence that music can effect our cardiac and neurological functions. There are other ways to take advantage of your senses to reduce holiday stress. For example, some research shows that aromatherapy–particularly the scent of lavender–may reduce stress.
Never underestimate the healing power of touch. A massage will do wonders towards a more relaxed state of mind, not to mention improving those shopping-tense shoulders. Or try sweating it out: research shows that the endorphin rush you experience after a good workout can cut stress. And sex can actually lead to a reduction in the physical effects of stress, like blood pressure.
The holidays are fun. But you are not alone if they create stress for you. Explore meditation, music and the power of touch to de-stress and maximize enjoyment of the holiday season.
Photo from Flickr