The holiday season can up stress levels big-time. Busy schedules, financial concerns and family conflicts can make stress soar. So can the notion that we’re supposed to be happy just because it’s the holidays, even though sometimes we’re not.

Stress can negatively affect both physical and emotional health. In the short term, it may make it difficult to sleep, cause anxiety and result in overeating. Left unchecked, chronic stress can contribute to serious health problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.

Don’t let stress get the best of you. Here are 7 stress-busting tips:

  1. Acknowledge your feelings. Are you feeling like you’re being pulled in too many directions? Having a hard time dealing with something someone has said or done? Missing someone who is no longer with you? Acknowledge what you’re feeling head-on and accept that it’s okay to not be happy all the time.
  2. Breathe deeply. You’ve likely heard this a million times, but it really works. When you’re feeling stressed, take a few minutes to breathe slowly and deeply. Focus on your breathing and let your mind go blank. You can also spend time meditating or using a relaxation technique such as guided imagery to reduce stress.
  3. Exercise is a great stress reliever. The type of activity you do is less important than doing something you enjoy. So if you love Zumba, find time to fit in a class. Like to hike? Carve out some time to get away from it all and connect with nature while giving your body a workout. Even stretching at your desk can help quickly relieve built-up stress.
  4. Head outdoors. Yes, even if it’s cold outside, fresh air can be rejuvenating. Take in the sights, breathe in the fresh air and listen to the sounds surrounding you. Studies show that outdoor activity can help elevate mood and reduce stress.
  5. Laughter really is the best medicine, and that’s especially true when you’re feeling stressed. Watch a funny movie, spend a few minutes viewing cat videos or call your BFF and share a funny story. Chances are you’ll feel a lot better after you’ve had a few laughs.
  6. Let things go. Pay attention to what makes you angry or upset and then make a conscious decision to not let those things get to you. If you can learn to pay attention to what negatively affects you and why, it’s more likely you’ll be able to reduce the impact on your stress levels.
  7. Carve out “me” time. At the end of a busy day, you may find you’ve done nothing for yourself and only things for others. Taking even 10-15 minutes to focus on you can be refreshing and stress-reducing. Take a bath, read a book or go for a walk. As long as it’s something you enjoy, your “me” time can help ease stress and keep you centered.

Sources:

http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=59875

http://lifehacker.com/5994585/top-10-instant-stress-busters

http://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/tc/quick-tips-reducing-holiday-stress-get-started

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20047544

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-symptoms/art-20050987

http://www.healthline.com/health/stress/effects-on-body

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/07/22/how-nature-changes-the-brain/