It’s the most wonderful time of the year…right? And sometimes the most stress filled, anxiety inducing, rushing all over, time of the year. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the holiday season. I’m already listening to Christmas music in my car and counting down the hours until I can put up lights. But I can often find myself feeling overwhelmed amongst the joy through the entire month of December.
One thing that helps me get through the holiday stress is moving my body and getting in a good sweat. Taking regular breaks from the craziness to lift heavy things or stretch it out helps keep me focused on the season. This can be tough to do because we’re all so pressed for time during the holidays, but I encourage you to find the time, even just a few minutes, for the following reasons:
Exercise lowers our stress level and decreases anxiety in many different ways. You’ve probably heard it before; working out increases endorphins and raises serotonin levels, thus improving our moods. Those same endorphins also improve the prioritizing function in our brain, allowing us to have better focus and concentration, and make better decisions. This can be pretty valuable during the holidays when you’re being pulled in a million different directions.
For many of us, holidays come with lots of travel (possibly across a few time zones), and often we’re sleeping in less than ideal conditions, so we end up not only stressed, but also fatigued. So we really need to take advantage of the energizing effects of exercise. When you’re jet lagged from a 6-hour flight or your back is tight from sleeping on the fold out couch, move your body. Once your blood is pumping and oxygen is running through your veins, you’ll be energized for that next family function.
And the good news is, research shows us we can experience these mental and physical benefits of exercise immediately. Try to stay consistent with your regular workouts during the holidays, or at least make it a goal to get active each day. Here are a few quick ways to make that happen:
- Practice deep breathing techniques.
Inhale through the nose; exhale through the mouth deeply and intentionally. It takes only a few minutes, but can help clear your head, lower your blood pressure, and calm your nerves.
- Make it a family affair!
Crank up the Christmas music and have an impromptu kitchen dance party, find a fun class to try, or play an active game like charades with your loved ones. The laughs will provide an extra core workout.
- Stretch it out…
Even if you’re not a yogi, getting a few yoga inspired stretches will ease tension in both your muscles and your life! Check out this Holiday De-stress Yoga Stretch Workout below for some simple moves you can do anywhere.
Holiday Destress Yoga Stretch
Do each for 30 seconds, either in slow repetitions, or longer holds, your choice!
- Fold over foot pedal
- Warrior Side Bend
- Standing Cat Cow
- Bird Dog Child’s Pose
- Knee Drop Back Stretch