Work, family, budgets — they’re enough to stress out anyone. Add to that the impending holiday season, and you may find your anxiety level rising even more.
Even though the holidays can be magical, they’re also a source of tension and worry. According to a 2017 Yelp survey, 7 in 10 Americans feel stress during the holidays. In fact, 6 in 10 Americans can’t wait for the holiday season to be over.
Stepping away from the chaos, even for a short time, can help alleviate stress and make the holidays — or any day of the year— more enjoyable. Here are 10 inexpensive ways to de-stress.
1. Indulge Your Senses
Treat yourself to an in-home spa night featuring lavender, known for its calming properties. Add lavender-scented soap or essential oil to a bin of hot water and soak your feet for 20 minutes. Afterward, rub them with a mixture of granulated sugar and olive oil and then rinse to reveal softer skin and a more relaxed mind and body.
2. Stretch It Up
Because many people spend most of their days sitting, sometimes the fastest way to a boosted mood is to simply stand up. For maximum effect, raise your hands to the sky and stretch your shoulders and fingers while taking a full, deep breath.
3. No Place in the Shade
Sunlight triggers the release of serotonin, an important chemical and neurotransmitter in the human body believed to help regulate mood. Sit in the sun for 10-15 minutes (with appropriate sunscreen, of course), or crack a window for a hit of calming fresh air, which increases oxygen in the bloodstream and clears the mind.
4. Drink Up
Although you may be tempted to reach for a caffeine boost when stressed, a better choice is calming green tea, which contains an amino acid that has a meditative effect, reducing the heart rate in high-stress situations and promoting relaxation. For a stress-relieving snack, peel an orange. The smell of citrus reduces stress almost immediately.
5. Take a Hike
The health benefits of exercise are well-known, but you don’t have to spend hours on the treadmill to feel better. A 20-minute walk around the block increases the flow of oxygen in your body, boosts your heart rate, and promotes clear thinking.
6. Get Lost
Take the edge off a stressful day by escaping into a favorite book, which has been shown to reduce your stress by 68 percent.
7. Clear Out
Dishes in the sink and laundry on the floor is a physical manifestation of stress, and cleaning it up will actually make you feel better. When your space is orderly, there’s no place for stress.
8. Tune Out
By practicing just 10 minutes of meditation, you can boost your body’s natural ability to relieve stress. Apps like Calm and Headspace coach beginners through the process and can help erase unproductive worries. Add gratitude for an extra dose of calm by simply thinking about or writing down three to five things you are thankful for.
9. Laugh It Up
Sometimes the best way to feel happier is to act happy, which is why laughter is often the best medicine. Watch clips from your favorite movies or comedians or call a friend who never fails to put a smile on your face.
10. Sleep on It
Science is discovering more benefits of sleep every day, from reduced weight gain and increased immune function to less stress and higher productivity. Aim to get seven or eight hours per night, and take a 10- to 20-minute power nap when possible.