Between traveling, parties, end-of-year obligations at work, holidays, and the kids being home on break, December can be a very stressful month. Take a minute to breathe deeply, reflect on the positive parts of all these events, and try these five stress-reducing tips.
Exercise Who has time to fit in a workout between everything else going on? You do. Take five minutes at your desk to do some yoga. If you take the bus or train to work, get off one or two stops before you usually do and walk the rest of the way, and do the same on the way home. According to Neilson data, the average American watches four hours of television per day; use commercial breaks to do lunges, sit-ups, push-ups, and leg lifts in rotation.
Delegate You do not have to do everything yourself. If a houseguest or family member asks, “is there anything I can do to help,” fight the urge to say no. Of course there’s something they can do! Dry the dishes, chop some veggies, take a bag to the trash, or make sure the dog’s water bowl is full. The list of chores we do every day, from large to small, is endless. If no one is offering, because you are just so competent at everything, making it look effortless, ask for help. There is no shame in asking, and your needs are just as important as everyone else’s.
Meditate In less time than it takes your coworker to have a cigarette break, you can meditate. Take 90 seconds to go to The Quiet Place (a version for iPhones is available, too). Let your breathing fall in time to the music. Shut everything out of your mind. Focus on lowering your heart rate, letting your shoulders drop, and just being for a little while.
Self-care We all know that water and sleep and balanced diets help keep us feeling and looking our very best. These details, however, tend to fall by the wayside in times of great stress. Even if doing so means putting a task off until tomorrow, be sure to get the right amount of sleep for your body. Keep a water bottle at your desk and take regular water-and-stretch breaks. Keep high-protein snacks like trail mix and energy bars in your purse and car to avoid falling into the fast-food trap.
Laugh Laughter activates pleasure centers in the brain, releasing feel-good hormones like oxytocin and serotonin, thereby lowering heart rate and stress hormones like adrenalin and cortisol. Find three things to laugh about (even – or especially – if they’re just silly cat macros) for every one that stresses you, and soon you’ll feel much better.