‘Tis the season – for the party circuit, shopping until you drop and upping your sugar quota. If you find yourself a little stressed – or a lot –- here are 10 ways to improve your mood and relax.
Say hi to the sun
Health magazine notes the sun stimulates the production of serotonin and relieves Seasonal Affective Disorder. Spend time near a window on sunny days to cheer yourself up.
Find a (lost) friend
“There’s something about connecting with other human beings that has an intrinsic ability to help people reduce stress,” psychologist Dr. Richard Bedrosian told FORBES magazine.
Don’t beat yourself up for losing track of old friends. Just find them and tell them what they mean to you.
Get your citrus fix
Certain citrus fragrances boost feelings of well-being and alleviate stress by upping levels of norepinephrine, a hormone that affects mood, according to Health. So, some lemon or orange essential oil could be a pick-me-up.
Make your own list and check it more than twice
Angela Liddon, a blogger at Oh She Glows, suggests making a list of five short things you are happy for in your life and putting it in your pocket. Read it over whenever you are feeling stressed. The words can become a mantra when dealing with difficult situations or people.
Don’t forget to eat real food
For Buddy the Elf, syrup may be one of the four main food groups, but the rest of us need to be careful. A tip from Psychology Today said that for maximum energy, it’s best to stick mostly to foods that grow on trees or on the ground (vegetables and fruits) and to choose healthy fats (such as olive oil and flax seeds), lean protein (such as fish and organic chicken) and legumes, nuts and seeds.
Good deeds, good health
Better Homes & Gardens tells us what we kind of already know. Altruism raises levels of dopamine, a feel-good brain chemical that shields the body from stress hormones. What’s interesting is that any deed, no matter how small, can do the trick, according to clinical therapist Serena Wadhwa.
Easy examples from the magazine include bringing the mail to an elderly neighbor, surprising a coworker with a cup of coffee or slowing your car on a busy street to let another driver turn.
Hydration is key
The Washington Post tells us not to forget the eight glasses of water per day. Nutrition coach Cheryl Harris told the paper that dehydration can affect your mood negatively. Also watch out for excessive eggnog, both because of the alcohol content and because it’s – yikes! – 350 calories per cup.
Family Circle interviewed Ruth Curran, author of Being Brain Healthy, who said if you look for a distraction, you can decrease your anxiety. Her example involves angst while setting the holiday table.
Honing on any object in the room (curtains, for example) and thinking about how many other types of window accents there are (blinds, valances, shutters) can tamp down on stress.
Take a tip from the Chinese
The hoku spot in traditional Chinese medicine is the fleshy place between your index finger and thumb, according to Health magazine. If you apply steady pressure to the spot for just 30 seconds, you can reduce stress and tension in your upper body.
Low expectations are a must
The Sparkles of Sunshine blog reminds us that unmet expectations can bring on the stress more than anything. So don’t think, or say, that this is going to be the best Christmas ever. This can help you shed your own perfectionism and also be more tolerant of others mess-ups.