Between all of the holiday parties, visiting families and friends potentially increased work deadlines, and the increased financial commitments during this time, the holidays can be a stressful time.

The Mayo Clinic has a list of ways stress affects our bodies, moods, and behaviors. Some that I know are true for me are headaches, fatigue, anxiety, lack of motivation & focus, overeating, working out less, and social withdrawal. Stress makes me tired, and cranky, neither of which are things I enjoy.

The holiday season is a great time to up your self-care game. Here are a few things to try.

1. Practice gratitude.

Oprah swears by the practice of gratitude – I don’t know about you, but I am down to try something Oprah lives by. During hectic times, reminding yourself of the good things happening can decrease stress and increase joy.

You can hand-write a list or, like me, use the Grateful app. I have the app remind me daily to sit and think about the things I am grateful for. Your list can be anything that you are happy and thankful for, but take a few minutes to sit down to really think about what makes you happy and grateful.

2. Mindfulness.

We’ve talked about mindfulness which is the practice of being in the moment. It’s about focusing on the present instead of the past or the future.

During busy times, I’d encourage practicing meditation and mindfulness while driving and shopping. You can do this by not being on your phone and taking in the surroundings. I feel much calmer when I do these things.

3. Sleep.

Sleep is so incredibly important. We can’t function at our best when we are tired. I don’t know about you, but when I am busy, I am more likely to sleep less.

During the holiday season, try not to adjust your sleep schedule and get the same amount of sleep you are accustomed to. This amount of rest will give you an additional tool in your toolkit to combat stress.

4. Monitor your alcohol intake.

Holidays often mean lots of parties and get-togethers While those are lots of fun, increased alcohol intake decreases your ability to think clearly and be in control of your thoughts and choices. Have all the fun, just think about how much your drinking.

5. Be mindful about difficult conversations.

It is a particularly decisive time in the world right now, so there is a possibility you will have to have difficult conversations associated with politics or different opinions while seeing family and friends during this season.

When having these conversations, it will be important to set boundaries. If you don’t want to have a conversation about a particular topic, say that you don’t want to have that conversation and walk away if you need to.

Take a deep breath before responding. When we are frustrated the part of our brain that is programmed to think clearly (our prefrontal cortex) isn’t engaged – taking a deep breath allows you to engage that part of your brain and make calm and clear decisions.

We hope that you have a great holiday season that is filled with all the things you enjoy, but just in case, practice some self care. 😉

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