While the holidays should be a time of great joy, they can also be a time of great stress. The hustle and bustle of shopping, preparations, family gatherings, and more can cause your blood pressure to rise just thinking about it. But you can stress less this holiday season.
On the most recent Stress in America survey, on a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 means you have “little or no stress” and 10 means you have “a great deal of stress,” the average reported level of stress during the past month among all adults was 5.0, which has held steady since 2020 and is higher than pre-pandemic rates. If you’re already stressed, the holiday season can be an added challenge.
Stress in America™
The Stress in America™ survey measures attitudes and perceptions of stress among the public and identifies leading sources of stress, common behaviors used to manage stress, and the impact of stress on our lives. The results of the survey draw attention to the serious physical and emotional implications of stress and the inextricable link between the mind and body.
It’s time to reframe your thinking about the holidays. Instead of anticipating the likely stress ahead, try to view the holidays as an opportunity to improve your wellbeing. There are a number of helpful steps you can take to lessen holiday stress and feel more optimistic about the season. Start with these three:
- Simplify – The holiday season is particularly stressful when you have too much on your plate. This might be the case if you’re welcoming out-of-town guests and hosting family festivities. Set realistic expectations for yourself. Everything doesn’t have to be perfect, and you don’t have to do everything yourself. Get your family involved and delegate. For example, instead of taking on the responsibility of preparing an entire meal alone, ask everyone to bring a dish.
- Exercise – Although you may feel like you’re running around like crazy, you’re not really running. When you’re stressed, it’s especially important to exercise. Being active can elevate your mood and actually help you cope with stress. Exercise and other types of physical activity stimulate the production of endorphins in the brain. Endorphins are brain chemicals that function as a natural painkiller. They can trigger a positive feeling in the body, boosting mood and reducing feelings of anxiety and stress.
- B Vitamins – Stress depletes your body’s supply of B vitamins. B vitamins help by working with brain chemistry and balancing neurotransmitters, helping to achieve balance over stress. There are several B vitamins, and each one works differently with your body to battle stress. Taking a B vitamin complex can help you stress less during the busy holiday season.