4 Simple Ways to Lower Holiday Stress
The parties! The shopping! The decorating! The traveling! The cooking! Ah, yes, the holidays can easily leave you feeling breathless and overwhelmed—or in other words: stressed.
So, before you get too caught up in the gingerbread-scented whirlwind, take a minute to check out these four simple stress-lowering tips, courtesy of stress-relief expert and best-selling author Lauren E. Miller.
Get Plenty of Sleep
Getting enough rest can be a challenge when there are presents to be wrapped and parties to attend, but Miller is adamant that healthy sleep patterns should be a top priority. “Quality sleep restores and refreshes your body,” she says. “And if you don’t get enough of it, you can bet your productivity and focus will plummet.”
Of course, there are several things you can do to achieve a healthy sleep experience. Miller lists unplugging from electronics at least 1 1/2 to two hours before bedtime, dimming the lights, and playing relaxing music as helpful pre-bedtime initiatives. She adds that outfitting your bed with nice sheets is key too.
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Remain Curious and Fascinated
Yes, a lot is going to happen between now and the new year—and it won’t all be sugarplums. Regardless of the situations you find yourself in, Miller says to commit to remaining curious and fascinated about it all: “This means, instead of reacting, you’ll simply step back from a potentially stressful situation and ask yourself questions such as, ‘What could I learn from this? What can I release? What can I return to?’”
Detach From Your To-Do List
It’s easy to let your to-do list govern your life at any time of the year, and especially during the holidays. Miller affirms there’s nothing wrong with being goal-centered, but if you’re attaching your identity to your goals, you risk experiencing feelings of defeat if you don’t accomplish what you set out to do. “Mental fatigue tends to happen when we worry about how things will turn out, or when we need to know why things happened as they did,” she says. “Instead, go for the life in front of your face, do your best, and then forget about it.”
Close Your Action Loops
An action loop occurs when you start doing something, you experience it, and then you stop. Miller says the problem comes when we have too many action loops open at the same time. “We are wired to do one task at a time,” she explains. “So, when we try to do too much at once, it creates a mental bottleneck, which studies show creates mental fatigue and compromises productivity.”
To better focus on the task at hand, Miller recommends removing distractions such as phone notifications and email pop-ups, and completing one task (i.e., closing the action loop) before moving on to the next one. “If you feel the urge to ‘follow a shiny object’ in the midst of a task, say to yourself ‘Close the loop,’” she says. “As you practice this technique, your ability to get things done—without becoming overwhelmed—will expand.”
Now, let these tips from Miller sink in. Breathe in deeply and exhale slowly. Joyfully go on with your day, knowing you’re ready for whatever this magical season may bring.