Moms like us are familiar with the tension that the holidays can bring. There’s too much to do in too short a time: family gatherings, kids’ recitals, gift buying, secret Santa. From crowded shopping malls to that critical dinner ingredient you forgot, running around causes a lot of stress. Traffic, snowstorms, drunk drivers and other shoppers make driving a frightening endeavor, and the strain to get everything “just right” can make many of us too tightly wound to enjoy the events we plan, leaving us (and those around us) looking for stress relief.
As the holidays approach, then, it’s important that you take care of yourself to reduce your anxiety and be there for your family. Here are five natural ways you can find holiday stress relief:
- Herbal Teas:
Swap out the coffee, which can actually increase your stress, for high quality, organic teas. Green tea, for example, contains theanine, a chemical that may have a calming effect, according to WebMD. Research also shows it can lower high blood pressure. In fact, just the ritual of slowly sipping tea can also be effective for stress relief, so add this to your list of “me time” activities. You can find organic teas at companies like Traditional Medicinals, who carry a complete line of teas including some just for relaxation, and Earth Mama Angel Baby, who carry teas specifically for pregnancy, nursing, postpartum and miscarriage.
- Epsom Salt Baths:
Recently, I wrote about using Epsom salt to ward off the flu, but these baths can also relax you. The salt provides magnesium, which may be absorbed through the skin. All I know is that when my husband is stressed, I send him up for an Epsom salt bath and he returns relaxed and ready for a good night’s sleep. It’s sure to work for holiday stress relief – as long as you can find time for an indulgent bath! Check with your doctor to make sure you can add the magnesium.
- Yoga & Deep Breathing:
Many years ago, I took yoga at a gym and discovered, to my surprise, that I wasn’t breathing properly when I worked out! Yoga is great because it teaches you proper deep breathing, an excellent technique for calming nerves. If you can take a yoga course, give it a try. Meanwhile, when you feel upset, angry or very tense, try this technique to relax. Breathe in deeply, filling your belly, for 8 seconds. Then hold your breath for 8 seconds. Finally, exhale very slowly, again for 8 seconds. Keep repeating this until you get the hang of it (it takes a few rounds) and then go until you are calm.
- Eat Foods that Relieve Stress:
It turns out that a healthy diet is not only good for your waistline, it can also help you to manage stress. Fish, like fresh tuna and salmon, are a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids, a natural stress remover. But if you are not a fish eater or live a vegan or vegetarian life, don’t worry – there are plenty of options for you too. Avocados, nuts, leafy greens, and asparagus have all been linked to stress reduction. If you eat fish, organic produce, and the occasional avocado in between holiday events, you’ll fare better when you do eat an indulgent holiday feast.
When we are overworked and overwhelmed, exercise can be one of the first activities we drop. That’s unfortunate, because working out actually helps with stress relief. Not only does it let you vent frustration, it also stretches your muscles so they don’t cramp up. Earlier this year, I suffered from neck tension that prevented me from turning my head. Doing burpees actually relieved the tension and allowed me to move freely again. In addition, the American Psychological Association has reported that exercise helps the brain cope with stress. Scientists believe that exercise not only releases chemicals to help the brain deal with stress but that it also trains the body to practice and improve the stress response.
I did also want to add “get enough sleep” to this list, but I know that can be challenging this time of year. Do your best to find time to relax every day and to get to bed on time when possible. In the meantime, incorporating these tips this holiday can provide much-needed holiday stress relief so you can enjoy this season with your loved ones.
Disclosure: Bookieboo LLC has worked with numerous brands in the natural space, including Traditional Medicinals and Earth Mama Angel Baby.