• October 23, 2021
 No French Hens, Just Holiday Tips for 12 Days of Stress Relief and Joy

No French Hens, Just Holiday Tips for 12 Days of Stress Relief and Joy

Each year when the seasons change, we start to think of the holidays and start to see sales and Black Friday ads. Around the time when toy commercials increase there is an increase in stress, anxiety, and depression as well.

For those whose fall experience is not just the crowds and ads, but greater stress and depression at this time of year, there are a few things that can be done to reduce stress and increase joy in the holiday season.

On the 1st Day of Christmas my true love gave to me, the idea of sunlight as stress relief…

It stimulates the production of serotonin, which is the neurotransmitter that improves mood and lessens stress and depression. Seasonal Affective Disorder is the result of the body receiving less sunlight during months when the days are shorter. So make sure you get some sun on your face; it may be sun and snow not sun and sand, but it will help improve your mood.

On the 2nd Day of Christmas my true love gave to me, the idea of walking of worries…

The rhythm and repetition of walking has a tranquilizing effect on your brain, and it decreases anxiety and improves sleep. When you need to de-stress, go for a walk: not only will it reduce stress, but it will make room for more cookies.

On the 3rd Day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a “handy” little stress relief…

Applying firm pressure to the fleshy part of your hand between your thumb and your index finger for just 30 seconds can reduce stress and tension in your upper body. If you are feeling stressed this is a little trick which can be done at anytime and anywhere.

On the 4th Day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a reminder it is okay to say no as stress relief

Overdoing it goes along with the holidays. Make sure you do for yourself, not just everyone else, and give yourself the gift of saying “no” when you feel overwhelmed. Perfect is not a part of the holidays, or life. Perfect is impossible, accepting this will help you with allowing you to say no.

On the 5th Day of Christmas my true love gave to me, medicine in the form of laughing…

Don’t ignore the things that bring you joy and make you laugh as a result of making things “perfect.” Embrace the small things and the big which bring you joy and make you laugh. It not only will improve your mood and reduce stress, laughter has been shown it improve immunity to colds as well. Just think, Santa is always laughing and saying “ho, ho, ho” and he has lived how long?

On the 6th Day of Christmas my true love gave to me, reducing stress through old and new tradition making…

Often it is the old customs that bring us a sense of connection to the past. While this can lead to a feeling of comfort, it can also be a cause for stress and depression. Creating new traditions can create new memories and help to lessen the depression associated with the events or people connected to old traditions.

Re-creating old traditions so they have new meaning can help alleviate grief or depression. If your wife, grandma, or dad did something and they are gone, have the family come together and do those things. This new tradition embraces the past while also sharing the joy that was given by that member who is now gone.

On the 7th Day of Christmas my true love gave to me, reducing stress by signing….

Listening to music has an amazing ability to reduce stress and relax your body. While you are making those cookies for your school or work party, wrapping gifts, or driving in the car, crank up the tunes you love and sing along.

When you sing you stimulate the vagus nerve that runs down the back of the sinus cavity and throat. When this nerve is stimulated it relaxes the body, naturally relieving the tension that stress can cause. Singing also release endorphins, just as laughing and smiling do.

On the 8th Day of Christmas my true love gave to me, stress relief through time out just for me…

Time outs don’t have to be punishment, they can be a reward as well. Part of the holiday season is often constantly being on the go and around others. Taking a time out and letting yourself be alone can help you to relax and re-center yourself so that you are able to enjoy the season and the activities that are a part of it more.

On the 9th Day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a reminder to let others help me…

While much of the holidays is spent around family, often we try and do everything on our own and then come together. Let others help, sharing the load will allow no one person to feel overwhelmed while also allowing everyone to contribute to the beauty and specialness of the holiday.

On the 10th Day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a reminder to celebrate even if it’s just me…

When we are single or are far from family we often avoid the holidays or let them drag us down. While the traditional view of the holidays is something from a Norman Rockwell painting, that doesn’t mean there is nothing to celebrate if your painting is different.

When you are single, you are given a special gift or doing for yourself rather than for others, make sure you take advantage of that. If you have no one to buy gifts for buy one for yourself, if you are eating for one rather than 20, still enjoy a good meal (which means what you love without that weird casserole your aunt makes.)

On the 11th Day of Christmas my true love gave to me, the idea to volunteer, but be picky…

Volunteering your time at the holidays can be one of the most rewarding things and can create more feelings of gratitude than you can imagine. Doing small things with no expectation of receiving something back allows you to give truly from the heart and create joy for yourself and others.

It is important to not overextend yourself at the holidays by feeling obligated to help everyone who asks. These two things may seem unrelated, but in truth the joy created inwardly and outwardly from giving of yourself is something that can only exist if you are doing so by choice, feeling forced to give means it isn’t a gift and will create more stress than before.

On the 12th Day of Christmas my true love gave to me, creating new things to make me happy…

Rather than doing everything the way you always have and only doing those things, try something new this holiday season. Breaking out of the routine or tradition will allow for release while also building new memories, and perhaps create a new tradition. Remember: what is now tradition was once just something new to try.

Author – Justin Nutt LSCSW, LAC – Special Contributor to the El Paso Herald-Post

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Guest Columnists are residents who feel so strongly about a news event, a story or some other issue, that they decided to put their thoughts to paper - or computer screens. Or they are writers who have made their work available via other channels and we feature their work here, with permission. If you'd like to submit a column, please contact us at news@epheraldpost.com

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