Happy November! The bustle of the holiday season is upon us. This is usually the time of year that everyone's stress levels start to increase. Holidays have a way of doing that. There's meals to plan, parties to attend, presents to buy. It's easy to get wrapped up in the excitement and overabundance of the season. There's nothing wrong with a little indulgence during the holidays. But if just the thought of it all is causing you stress, it might be good to take a step back.
Managing your stress is an important part of living a healthier life. Not only does stress make you irritable and no fun to be around; it can also increase your risk of heart disease, as well as cause digestion problems, sleep problems, and play a factor in weight gain.
I've talked a little bit about mindfulness before. I really believe there are a lot of benefits to being present in your body and the moment. Just like it's important to know how to make healthy eating choices when you're out to eat, or get enough sleep every night. It's also important to have go-to ways of dealing with stress that comes up in your life. We're all over-scheduled and overwhelmed these days constantly plugged in and with endless to do lists. It's crucial to your health that you take time away from all the stress to unwind.
Stress relief is different for everyone. It's a good idea to try a number of things until you find something that works for you, but I'll give you a few ideas to get you started:
1. Enjoy a long hot bath at the end of the day
2. Take 10 minutes to focus on your breathing
4. Go for a walk (leave your cell phone at home)
5. Turn off your electronics for an hour and read a book or listen to music
6. Cuddle with your favorite person/people or animal(s) - technology free
I'm one of those people who always has a lot of "in progress" projects going on, so I'm always looking for new ways to help myself pull away from it all and relax. Right now I'm doing a 21 day meditation challenge in an effort to reconnect to my inner compass (something I've found can get lost when we focus too much on the daily "to dos" and not enough on the bigger picture of what kind of life we want to live). If meditation is something you think will work for you or you're interested in, give the free challenge a try here.
My favorite way to de-stress though is to practice gratitude. I find it's hard to be grateful and stressed at the same time. Some days finding things to be grateful for is more difficult than others, but there's always something, even if it's as simple as being grateful for a good cup of coffee in the morning. Finding my gratitude not only helps get rid of stress, it makes me happier and help puts life into perspective.
Taryn is a Los Angeles based Registered Dietitian who's passionate about helping you be your healthiest you.