Ahhh the holidays. A time to celebrate the important things in life, to spend time with the people we love, and to give with an open heart. It's also a truly magical time of year where everything just seems to sparkle, to appear that much more beautiful. Definitely a time worth slowing down to enjoy. Unfortunately, for many of us, this time of year also means more stress and anxiety. You might be feeling the magic one moment only to feel downright depressed and stressed 2 minutes later. If you find yourself simply trying to keep your cool during the holidays, we hope you find these 10 tips for managing stress helpful.
1. Consciously Ground Yourself
If you're feeling frazzled and chaotic, one of the best things to do is root down and ground yourself. Get into nature, wrap your arms around a big tree, stand barefoot for a moment on the earth, ground into your body through movement and stretching, focus on your breath and do deep abdominal breathing. There are also a number of essential oils that can be used for grounding, and for treating anxiety and stress. Some of the best oils for grounding are derived from trees and roots (it makes sense!). Think frankincense, cedar, cypress, myrrh and angelica root.
2. Schedule in Some Time to Just Be
This time of year can seem totally centered around doing. And while life is all about that balance of yin-yang, stillness and motion, the holidays can definitely push us way too far into the yang. Even if you literally have to schedule in the time to just do absolutely nothing, it actually might be one of the best things you can do for yourself. Your body and mind needs time to decompress and re-charge. Make a matcha latte or some herbal tea and enjoy it with a piece of raw chocolate. Get lost in the pages of a good book. Meditate for 10-15 minutes with some candles, sage, or natural incense burning (if that's your thing!). Bundle up and take a lazy stroll through your neighborhood or through your favorite nature spot and soak in the beauty around you.
3. Take Even Better Care of Yourself
If you're feeling pressure to do it all and do it all perfectly, let. it. go. Most of us juggle so much in our daily lives, it would be pretty much impossible to master it all without a lot of support. Put in the effort to make this time of year special, but be prepared to let some of your own expectations go if you need to in order to have a peaceful, joy-filled, stress-free experience. Your own health should be your number one priority. If your cup isn't getting replenished, how are you supposed to give selflessly to others? And isn't that the point of this special time of year? Take care of you first. And don't feel guilty about it, ever. Which leads us to our next tip...
4. Say No If You Need To
While many of us feel guilty if we say no, like we're being negative, or letting someone down, sometimes it's just necessary. Don't over-commit yourself to things this time of year, get clear about how much you can handle and how much you actually want to handle. Low-key holidays can be some of the best! It's not selfish to be clear about your own boundaries and ensure you have enough time to really enjoy the season fully. Burning the candle at both ends will always have consequences, for both yourself and those around you. The people who love you will understand if you have to say no.
5. Don't Overdue The Sugar
There are a million and 1 reasons to not overdue sugar, especially the processed stuff, but this time of year, when many of us are already feeling stretched and frazzled, a blood sugar crash and burn is definitely not helpful. Overdoing the sugar does not equate to a balanced state of mind or emotions. In fact, for those of us who have sensitive blood sugars, we can even feel totally manic from too much sugar. Enjoy your favorite treats here and there, but enjoy them mindfully, making sure to respect your body along the way, and balance the treats out with plenty of wholesome nutrition. Which leads us to tip #6...
6. Eat Grounding, Mineral-Rich Superfoods
This one definitely goes hand in hand with our sugar tip. It's pretty much impossible to avoid sugary treats this time of year, plus for many of us, those delicious treats are part of what makes this time of year so special. However, we need to be tempering those blood sugar swings with grounding foods dense with nutrition so that our bodies and minds can stay balanced. We're talking plenty of dark greens, root vegetables, soup broths, plant-based protein, plenty of healthy fats, and green superfood powders like Amazing Algae that will help boost your nutrient intake substantially. A non-sweet green juice made with a base of cucumber or celery, with plenty of dark greens, herbs (try parsley, basil or cilantro!), and lemon (you can even add a pinch of pink Himalayan salt!) is like an instant antidote to that awful, ungrounded feeling that can happen after too many sweets. Give it a try! It's like magic.
7. Take Additional Probiotics
You might be thinking, “Probiotics? As in digestive flora? What do those have to do with combating stress?” Recent studies have actually linked probiotic bacteria and prebiotics (special starches that probiotics consume) to not only our physical health, but also our mental and emotional well being. Ingesting probiotics and prebiotics on the daily may actually help keep your cortisol levels low. Cortisol is the main stress hormone that can wreak havoc on your adrenals, hormone balance, and blood sugar too. Plus, holiday stress can also have a negative impact on the digestive system (we all know that feeling of having a tight ball of stress in our stomach...), just one more reason to load up on the good bacteria!
8. Support Body and Mind With Hemp CBD
Cannabidiol, or CBD for short, is just one of the hundreds of different cannabinoids found in the cannabis species (both hemp and marijuana). CBD is known for its calming, anti-inflammatory effect and a myriad of health benefits. If you've not yet researched it we highly recommend that you do. The benefit of taking CBD derived from 100% industrial hemp is that there are no psychoactive effects, unlike CBD derived from marijuana which typically contains a corresponding THC content. CBD is an adaptogenic substance, meaning, if taken over time, it helps strengthen the body's ability to handle internal and external stressors. We now offer Hemp CBD Raw Chocolate (as pictured above) as well as 4 strengths of Cold Pressed Hemp Oil with Hemp Extract (CBD). Definitely a holiday season essential to have handy in your superfood "tool kit".
9. Get Adequate Sleep
Darker and shorter days paired with a lot going on can mean a definite recipe for exhaustion and burnout. This time of year it's especially important to exercise those "muscles" of discipline and get adequate, if not a little extra, deep and restful sleep at night. So when lights go out, make sure ALL lights go out. Meaning, turn off that device. Social media can be like quicksand and 5 minutes on Instagram can easily turn into an hour. An hour you should be sleeping. For anyone that has experienced any degree of sleep deprivation (maybe most of us?), we all know that adequate sleep is so important in terms of stress management and emotional stability.
10. Make A List, Check It Twice...
This might seem like a no-brainer, but if your finding yourself overwhelmed right now, lists can be your best friend. Getting it all out of your head and onto some paper (or your phone's Notes app...) can do a world of good for helping to clear mental space, and also give you a visual for what you really need to accomplish. Once you have a list in front of you, you might realize it's actually less of a load than you'd thought. You'll also get that sweet feeling of satisfaction after you checked things off, thanks to dopamine, the "feel good" neurochemical released by the brain when you've met a goal.
11. Shift Your Perspective
Instead of focusing on all that you need to accomplish, and gauging the success of your days based on how many things you checked off of that to-do list (yeah, the one we just mentioned above. It's all about finding that balance!), ask yourself instead how many times you've experienced JOY. If you're a list maker, try making a list focused on health and self-love, focused on being, not doing. Smiled at a stranger and saw their face light up? Check. Gave someone a compliment? Check. Took some time just for you? Check. Ate a healthy meal? Check. The holidays roll through quickly, and if you are enjoying yourself and spreading light this special time of year, you're doing it 100% right.
Image credit: Jim Lukach via Flickr Commons