As the holiday season approaches, to-do lists often start growing. When your schedule gets hectic, try these tips to reduce your stress level without sacrificing what matters most: your health and healthy relationships.
Make time for your support network. Schedule quality time with family and friends on a regular basis. On days when it’s impossible to get together in person, send positive texts to let loved ones know that they’re top of mind.
Treat yourself. If you spend the whole day scrambling to get things done, reward your hard work with something to look forward to after: a good dinner, talking with a close friend, a long walk, or watching your favorite TV show.
Look inward. Meditate or take time to reflect upon your thoughts, acknowledging stressors without giving them too much weight. Accept what you cannot change and dismiss troublesome topics when a resolution is not easily discovered.
Sweat it out. Exercising just 30 minutes per day, three or four times a week can be a big mood-lifter. Exercise is proven to release endorphins (pleasure hormones) in your body and expel unhealthy stress.
Get physically unstuck. A rush of blood and change of scenery can boost your focus and concentration. Make an effort to leave your desk and get out of the house to physically move your body.
Go outside. Immerse yourself in the great outdoors for 30 minutes per day: Vitamin D, the “sunshine vitamin,” is proven to improve mood, decrease depression and anxiety, and reduce the risk of serious health conditions. A bonus: The fresh air can clear your head.
Find release. Try journaling or deep breathing during stressful times. A series of three deep yoga breaths lowers your blood pressure and calms your entire body. Relaxing your body will calm your mind.
Acknowledge progress: Each day, create reasonable to-do lists with at least five tasks that are easily accomplished. Cross off each one as it is completed – and absorb the success.
Be grateful: Reflect upon things in your life that you are grateful for each day: Chronicle these feelings in a gratitude journal, and return to it in times of stress.
Lisa Goodwin, LCSW, is clinical director of the Masonic Center for Youth and Families (MCYAF) in Covina, California. Part of the Masonic Homes of California, MCYAF is a nonprofit organization offering therapeutic services to children, adolescents, young adults, and their families in Northern and Southern California. Learn more at mcyaf.org.