It’s Thanksgiving and everyone knows what that means. Black Friday is tomorrow. Over the next twenty days, you might be one of those people who are subjected to high degrees of frustration and anger. And all of it is for the sake of family. Cooking, cleaning and shopping are all on the minds of millions. What can you do to reduce stress levels throughout the day?
Reduce Stress in Your Day
The more relaxed you are, the better you’ll feel this time of year. Between trying to get the house just right for guests and getting out to the stores early Friday morning, this time of year is chaotic to the Nth degree. Here are a few things you can try to help keep your mind clear of the stress that comes with the holidays.
1. Meditate Often
Meditation isn’t just some mystical practice that monks use in Tibet. It’s actually quite a relaxing exercise, especially for those who suffer from high degrees of stress. The best part is that it doesn’t need anything but yourself to find a bit of peace in the madness.
In reality, meditation can give you a chance to reduce stress while gaining some insight into yourself. All you need is a quiet place where you can close your eyes and clear your mind. For me, it’s the shower. I know it sounds like an odd place to meditate. But I learned this technique when I had children screaming throughout the house.
Meditation is one of those things that many therapists suggest. That’s because millions of people have found it to be extremely helpful. It requires no money, no pills and no extensive experience. It’s something that can be done virtually anywhere, and it has potential to keep you relaxed.
2. Exercise Often
Exercise can be used for more than just keeping the weight down and the muscle mass up. In fact, a semi-strenuous workout could greatly alter your perception of the holidays.
Many people will use exercise to reduce stress and give themselves some clarity. That’s because of the endorphin released when you physically push your body. Many know of this as a “Runner’s High.” It’s the state marathon runners get into after exhausting themselves. It’s a euphoric sensation thanks to the hormone which also affects the pain receptors in your body.
An intense workout can also get the blood flowing. An increase of blood and oxygen to the brain helps you keep focus and rational thought handy. This is especially valuable when fighting other parents for that last toy on Black Friday. If you think about it, keeping in shape gives you an advantage over many others on that dark shopping day.
3. Eat Healthier Meals
Healthier eating can go a long way to improving your mental and physical state. It’s not just a way to keep the pounds off. Many foods can actually give prolonged energy levels as well as reduce stress.
Things like leafy greens are some of the best foods to eat to help combat anxiety. For instance, take spinach. This super-green has a large number of nutrients including folate, which helps the body develop dopamine. This chemical stimulates pleasure centers of the brain and will help reduce stress. That, and it will also strengthen the neurotransmitters in the brain, which contributes to clear thought and focus.
I know it can be easy to grab a quick burger at McDonald’s while you’re out and about. But try to focus on foods that have less fats and carbs and more B-complex vitamins and proteins. This will also supply you with longer boosts of energy as opposed to a quick burst that may leave you feeling like crap later.
4. Choose Better Snacks
Like foods, your snacking will impact your physical and mental states. However, you can delve into a bit of sweets as long as you don’t go too wild. For instance, dark chocolate is loaded with iron as well as components that help stimulate the brain. I’m not saying you should grab a five-pound bag of Hershey’s and dive into some holiday shopping. But you can reduce stress levels by eating snacks responsibly.
Personally, I rather like V8, string cheese and carrots for snacks. Not only does my stomach feel fuller to face the day, but I generally feel better as well. You can’t go wrong with veggies and proteins. You might be amazed by what you can get out of a serving of baby carrots and a bit of ranch dressing.
In either case, your snacking throughout the day will impact you one way or another. During that rush to go shopping, make sure you have logical snacks that can keep the blood sugar where it needs to be and the body energized. Try to stay away from energy drinks. Caffeine has potential to keep you from relaxing. It may be difficult to reduce stress if you’re fueled by a four-pack of Redbull.
5. Give Yoga a Real Chance
I never really thought practicing yoga was something I’d be interested in. However, I’ve found it to be very uplifting. It’s almost as effective for me as meditating in the shower. I feel more energized, relaxed and a hell of a lot more flexible than I used to be.
Although it was disturbing to hear all the various body parts pop like a bowl of Rice Crispies, I found yoga to be very enlightening. Needless to say, I feel less stressed and I don’t pop as much when moving now.
Before tackling the kitchen or heading out at 3:00am to do Black Friday shopping, get a bit of yoga in. Even if you’ve never done it before, yoga is quite easy to learn. I find Exercise.com to be quite helpful when trying to do new postures. Take the time and find a site you enjoy to teach you.
6. Focus on Some Music
Like they say, “Music soothes the savage beast.” Studies of all kinds have demonstrated how music affects the human mind. The right song can get you in the spirit to rumble or relax you to the point of a deep sleep. But if you want to reduce stress, you may want to listen to the latter.
Humans are quite auditory, and the right frequency of sounds can do amazing things. This is why so many people will buy into babbling brook or ocean sound effects. For many of us, the right sounds can even be spiritual in nature.
Personally, I find classical music to be quite relaxing and entertaining. And sometimes, I’ll even listen to Christmas music. It puts me in the mood and I lose myself in the moment. At any rate, find something that can help you keep calm.
7. Delegate Some Tasks
Don’t be afraid to delegate tasks to others in the family or ask help from friends. I know a lot of us will want to do things on our own, but an extra pair of hands can go a long way to relax. Especially when in the kitchen or running through the grocery store.
Draft the children to help you in the kitchen. Yeah, I know, you don’t want any of them helping you cook. However, it can be fun for them if you give a menial task that is easy and will save you time. Cleaning, grabbing spices, getting things out of the fridge and more can be done by anyone.
When you’re out shopping, make it a team effort. Split the list in even portions and head out. You can get far more done in less time while you reduce stress from having to get it all yourself. You can take one half of the store while your spouse takes the other half. Go team!
8. Practice Breathing
Although basic breathing is an instinctual action, a few deep breaths can do wonders for stress. Personally, I feel tons better after taking three long and deep breaths – in through the nose, and out through the mouth.
This increase of oxygen is actually quite beneficial for the brain. The more oxygen your head gets, the clearer you’ll think. This increase of oxygen will also help lower your blood pressure at the same time.
It’s all about keeping the mind clear. This is one of the reasons why experts teach you how to breath when exercising, playing sports or simply preparing for a math test. Take a few deep breaths when you start feeling anxious or when you’re about to head into the busiest store in town on Black Friday.
9. Aroma Therapy
You can never go wrong with aroma therapy. You know, I never put much stock into oils and candles. I used to burn incense just because I like the smell. Now, I use aromas to put me in certain moods and reduce stress. It’s amazing by what the right smells can do for your mindset.
Although I hate pumpkins in general, I find one of my favorite scents this time of year is pumpkin spice. It gets me into the holiday spirit and I feel so much more relaxed when it’s wafting through the air.
Find those scents that keep your mind centered. Various aromas are inexpensive whether it’s a candle or a small stick of incense. It’s all about how you feel when you breathe it in and what you can do to reduce stress in your life.
Taking Care of Yourself
Sadly, this time of the year is one of the most stressful for millions of people. Many of them will be pushed to their limits and are unable to find themselves a clear path. You don’t have to be depressed during this season if you can find even the smallest pleasures. Be safe this holiday and find ways to reduce stress in your life.