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16 November . 2017

10 tips for enjoying a stress-free holiday season

The holiday season brings many wonderful gifts, including cherished annual traditions and the chance to spend extra time with family and friends. The holidays can also bring that annual stress-fest, where we feel the need to “do it all” and achieve perfectionism in a short and hectic amount of time.

To help make sure this holiday season is as happy, healthy and stress-free as possible, we’ve gathered these 10 tips from some of the nation’s leading experts. Relax and enjoy!

1. Don’t forget healthy habits. Don’t let the holidays become a free-for-all, the Mayo Clinic advises, because “overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt.” Have a healthy snack and a glass of water before parties so you won’t go overboard on sweets, fatty foods, and sugary or alcoholic drinks. Get plenty of sleep and don’t forget to exercise each day.

2. Learn to say “no.” Agreeing to something when you really should say “no” can leave you feeling resentful, stressed and overwhelmed, according to the Mayo Clinic. Friends and family will understand that you can’t show up for everything. If you can’t avoid an obligation or overtime at work, try to balance that out by removing something else from your to-do list.

3. Reach out. The Mayo Clinic advises reaching out if you feel lonely or isolated during the holidays. Volunteering can lift the spirit and provide companionship. Accept that the holidays don’t have to be “perfect” or like previous years. Set aside grievances to resolve at a later time, and try to be understanding when others get upset or distressed. Chances are, they’re stressed too.

4. Lift your mood. Sunlight is a great natural mood-lifter, and readily available at Sweetwater’s parks and trails.

Running and walking are great ways to reduce stress.

5. Give yourself a squeeze. The fleshy spot between your thumb and index finger is known as the hoku spot in traditional Chinese medicine, and applying firm pressure there for 30 seconds can help relieve upper body stress and tension, according to Health.com. Give it a try the next time you feel stress.

6. Do less, enjoy more. Health.com also offers these quick and easy holiday stress reducers: Take care of yourself by saying “no” at least once during the season; stick to your daily routine and don’t try to squeeze in more than you can handle; laugh – it reduces stress hormones; forget perfection – the world’s not going to end because dinner is late or the house is a little cluttered; eat out to cut down on time spent cooking and cleaning at home.

7. Eat your way to happiness. Eating right can also help reduce stress, say the experts at Health.com. Enjoy a spicy meal to trigger the release of stress-fighting endorphins. Honey has antioxidants and antibacterial properties that may boost your immunity and help ward off colds, so enjoy. Tip: the darker the honey, the stronger its antioxidants. Don’t skip meals, especially breakfast, if you’re having coffee. Caffeine can cause blood sugar levels to spike, which may lead to irritability and inability to pay attention.

8. Make a budget and stick to it. Your past holiday spending is the best indicator of what you’ll spend this year, according to USA Today. This article has some useful tips, including setting a weekly reminder on your phone to review spending so far and what’s left.

9. Focus on gratitude. When you’re feeling stressed, focusing on gratitude can put everything back into perspective. So let the “thanks” in Thanksgiving set your attitude for the rest of the year, and beyond. Here are 100 ways to be grateful during the holidays from Austin’s own Zuzu Perkal.

10. Make get-togethers easy. Don’t wear yourself out trying to be the perfect host, the Cleveland Clinic recommends. Buy prepared foods instead of making everything from scratch. Make foods ahead of time, freezing them if needed. Ask others to bring their favorite dishes.

Enjoying community holiday activities with friends and neighbors is another easy way to reduce stress. Communities like Sweetwater have Lifestyle Directors who do all the planning for special events, so residents just have to show up and have fun. And instead of fighting traffic, you can easily get there using the community trails. Learn more about Sweetwater events throughout the year.