The holiday season is here, and while for many it is a time of joy and wonder, it also can cause a lot of stress, especially to those who suffer from anxiety. Traveling to and from relatives, preparing massive holiday meals, and spending a great deal of money on gifts for family and friends can cause high blood pressure, headaches and tension.
Still, you don’t have to resign yourself to a season full of stress. From staying off of social media to keeping tabs on your health with a smartwatch, here are four tips to combat the holiday stressors, enjoy your time with loved ones, and go into the New Year embracing peace and tranquility.
#1 Detox From Social Media
There’s no doubt that social media has some benefits. People can stay in closer contact with far-flung family and friends, share details of their lives, and connect with people that they might never otherwise have met.
However, social media can cause significant problems, including an increase in anxiety and what experts call comparison stress. Often, people will share the best parts of their holidays online, including extravagant gifts or luxurious travel, and this can cause others to feel inadequate or lonely.
Experts recommend unplugging from social media from time to time for a better quality of life. A good way to start stepping away from social media during the holiday season could mean turning off notifications on your phone or even putting your phone out of reach during a gathering or weekend. You can always return to social media when the holidays are over.
#2 Track Your Health With A Smartwatch
Exercise becomes especially important in times of stress. A workout releases endorphins and regulates your body’s fight-or-flight response, which in turn reduces symptoms of anxiety. You don’t have to stick to intense workouts to reap the benefits—as long as you’re active, even for just a few minutes a day, your mind and body will thank you.
If you don’t have time to hit up the gym every day, a smartwatch is a great way to monitor your health and track all the steps you take in a day. With a smartwatch like the Apple Watch Series, you can use its ECG and let it know if you need some help in an emergency.
If you’d prefer a different brand of smartwatches, you can look into getting a Fitbit. Fitbits keep track of calories burned, steps taken, how much sleep you get, and other indicators of physical activity. They also make a great gift – whether for yourself or a beloved friend who is wanting to get on the healthy lifestyle train.
#3 Enjoy Everything In Moderation
For many, the holidays can mean indulgence – in food, beverages, gifts, and more. Still, people who try to follow a healthy diet can wake up after the start of the new year and find that all their hard work has fallen by the wayside. Sugar, unhealthy fats, and eating irregularly can actually make your anxiety worse by negatively affecting your blood sugar levels, for instance.
UCHealth explains that while it’s good for the soul to thoroughly enjoy the holidays, it is smart to do so in moderation. A few ways to ensure that you stay healthy during the holidays include eating a smaller, fresh meal before the big holiday feast, taking small bites of more rich dishes, and pacing yourself.
Fruits, vegetables, and nuts contain antioxidants, which can help reduce your anxiety symptoms. Be sure to get enough protein and probiotics as well, which increase the production of feel-good hormones. It is entirely possible to have a great time during the holidays without stressing about your health after the fact.
#4 It’s Okay To Say No
Finally, to avoid stress during the holiday season, don’t spread yourself too thin. It is easy to make multiple commitments during the week, scheduling time with family, volunteering for charitable events, and preparing food for gatherings—and even though doing things for loved ones can bring about positive feelings all around, a completely packed schedule won’t help your anxiety. In such a busy time, it is especially important to be able to say “no” when you feel as though you are being asked to commit to something every day of the holiday season.
While it can be difficult to say no to family and friends, there are gentle ways to explain that you have a full schedule already. Ultimately, it is important to prioritize self-care during the holiday season, and allowing plenty of time for rest and relaxation is a very big part of that.
No matter how you plan to spend your holiday season, make sure that you prioritize your needs above all others. Anxiety can worsen this time of year due to all the stressors that come with the season, so it’s important to keep it at bay. The tips outlined above can help to make the season enjoyable, merry, and memorable for you and your loved ones.
Amy Mason’s mental health declined after she was in a car accident, so she started researching natural ways to reduce anxiety. Once she discovered that exercise could be the key, she returned to her high school and college passion: running, which helped improve her energy levels, concentration, and sleeping habits. She started her site, Fitness of the Mind, to help those facing physical, mental, and emotional health conditions get their health and life back on track.