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What are your favorite ways to de-stress over the holidays?

Updated: Nov 13, 2023

Hey peeps! The holiday season is here, and while it's supposed to be all about joy and celebration, let's face it – it can also be incredibly stressful. From shopping to social obligations, it's easy to feel overwhelmed. That's why it's crucial to prioritize self-care and emotional well-being. In this post, we'll explore some practical and heartfelt ways to de-stress over the holidays, allowing you to embrace the season (hopefully) feeling more calm and peaceful.



1. Creating or Looking at Art:

Did you know that looking at and making art will help reduce feelings of stress and loneliness around the holidays?


Studies show that high stress, isolation, and loneliness are on the rise in America, leading to a higher risk of developing heart disease, anxiety, depression, and cognitive decline. Research has also shown that engaging with art can have a profound impact on our well-being, especially during the holiday season when stress and loneliness tend to escalate. By immersing ourselves in the world of art, whether by creating it or looking at art in a museum, gallery, or even online, we can find solace and connection amidst the challenges of the holiday season.


Art offers a unique way to release pent-up emotions, and it can even create biological changes in your brain, promoting healing and a sense of connection. Just spending thirty minutes a day doodling in a sketchbook or coloring in an adult coloring book can significantly reduce your stress levels and heart rate. Plus, visiting art museums or galleries can be a social experience, helping you connect with fellow art enthusiasts or the stories told by the artworks themselves.


Regularly immersing yourself in art activities or cultural events can lead to an improved quality of life and overall well-being. Whether you're expressing your emotions through art or immersing yourself in visual narratives, art can be a therapeutic tool that guides you through the holiday blues, fostering a deeper connection to the world's beauty and creativity.



2. Mindful Puttering:

Amidst the holiday chaos, the idea of "puttering around the house" might sound ridiculous, but trust me, it's incredibly beneficial for your mental well-being. Puttering involves engaging in small, enjoyable tasks around your home – the things you want to do, not just what you should or need to do.


Puttering is a kind of meditation that reduces stress, increases mindfulness and helps you rediscover life's simple pleasures. When you're puttering, you're fully present at the moment, whether you're tending to your plants, rearranging your home decor, or organizing that cluttered closet. This mindful engagement fosters creativity, productivity, and a deeper connection with your living space. Plus, it's a much-needed break from the constant digital distractions!


Puttering is a therapeutic approach that can significantly improve your mental health and bring serenity to your daily life. It's a reminder to slow down, take a step back, and find fulfillment and tranquility within the comforting embrace of your own home.




3. Slow Walks to Decrease Cortisol:

The holiday season pressures can lead to elevated cortisol levels. Cortisol is a hormone that responds to stress and affects various bodily functions. Constant high cortisol levels due to prolonged stress can be detrimental to your health, contributing to anxiety and other issues.


Instead of fast-paced walks or runs, consider incorporating leisurely, slow walks into your holiday routine. These gentle walks can help lower cortisol levels, alleviating feelings of anxiety, irritability, and even depression that can put a damper on the festive spirit. Plus, reducing cortisol levels can strengthen your immune system, helping you stay healthy when it matters most.


Slow walks offer an elegant and effective way to practice self-care and discover inner peace amidst the holiday chaos.




4. Designate a Safe Place to Relax:

When stress levels are soaring, it's essential to create a sanctuary for relaxation. Think about dedicating a specific room in your home or even a cozy closet as a tranquil retreat. Fill it with calming elements like soft lighting, soothing scents, and comfy furnishings. Keep some books nearby or close your eyes and rest, and maybe set a timer if your schedule is tight. Try to avoid your devices, the goal is to calm your mind and body.


If you live in warmer climates, spending time outdoors or in your garden can provide grounding and relaxation. Make sure your children are taken care of – perhaps they can have some quiet time too. Double-check that the stove is off and the dogs have gone potty, and give yourself a daily half-hour to one-hour break. The busier you are, the more essential these breaks become. Remember, you can't pour from an empty cup!


Creating a designated safe place to find solace during the holiday season is a thoughtful way to prioritize your well-being and de-stress.


The holiday season can be a mixed bag of emotions, but by incorporating these practical and heartfelt approaches into your routine, you can take care of yourself and find peace amidst the holiday whirlwind. Whether you're creating art, puttering around your home, taking slow walks, or creating a designated safe space to relax, remember that self-care is essential for a joyful and stress-free holiday season. Embrace these practices with an open heart, and you'll discover a deeper sense of connection, mindfulness, and tranquility during this festive time of year.


*Are you dealing with anxiety, stress, or grief and concerned about how you will get through the holidays? Contact me for available appointments for grief counseling, family counseling to create and maintain boundaries, and counseling to relieve anxiety, stress and help with life transitions.



References:


Harvard Health Publishing, (2019, July 1), A 20-minute nature break relieves stress. https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/a-20-minute-nature-break-relieves-stress


Law, M., Karulkar, N., & Broadbent, E. (2021). Evidence for the effects of viewing visual artworks on stress outcomes: a scoping review. BMJ open, 11(6), e043549. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2020-043549


Martin, L., Oepen, R., Bauer, K., Nottensteiner, A., Mergheim, K., Gruber, H., & Koch, S. C. (2018). Creative Arts Interventions for Stress Management and Prevention-A Systematic Review. Behavioral sciences (Basel, Switzerland), 8(2), 28. https://doi.org/10.3390/bs8020028


Robson, D. (2022, March 29). Puttering around: Why small tasks feel so therapeutic. https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20220323-puttering-around-why-small-tasks-feel-so-therapeutic


Vivek Murthy, “Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation,” Office of the U.S. Surgeon General, 2023, https://www.hhs.gov


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