The stringing of the Christmas lights (and the re-stringing when that one darn bulb goes out), the lengthy shopping lines, and the I-have-to-get-everything-done-before-New-Year’s rush of anxiety can make even the merriest person connect with her inner Scrooge during the holiday season.
“How often, during the holidays, do we feel stressed out, shopped out, and worn out?” says Dr. Coral Arvon, director of behavioral health and wellness at Pritikin Longevity Center + Spa in Miami, Florida. “This year, take the edge off. Get into the holiday spirit by regularly nourishing your own spirit.”
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves—if you’re one of the people who needs to restore your slightly scrooge-y spirit, take Dr. Arvon’s holiday stress-busting tips to heart.
1. Stay in shape emotionally. “We talk a lot at the Pritikin Longevity Center about staying in shape physically,” Dr. Arvon says. “During the holidays, it’s especially critical to keep yourself in good emotional shape, too. All the extra activity—decorating, shopping, card writing—can take its toll, leaving you exhausted, which increases stress, creating a vicious cycle.”
Ward off stress and fatigue by 1) getting a good night’s sleep, and 2) sticking to your exercise routine, Dr. Arvon advises. “Get in at least 30 minutes of fitness each day, even if it’s broken up into 10-minute increments. At the mall, for example, do a few ‘laps’ before starting to make your purchases (in your walk, you may even spot better deals).” As well, you’ll be amazed at how good sleep habits and daily exercise can improve not only your energy but your mood, she adds.
2. Take timeouts. Carve out at least 15 minutes every day just for you, Dr. Arvon suggests. Take a walk after dinner and enjoy the winter stars. Book 15-minute chair massages for your back, neck, and shoulders.
“Or just shut the door to your bedroom or office, turn on soothing music, breathe deeply, and restore your inner calm,” she says. “You’ll emerge refreshed, ready to handle the challenges of your Yuletide days.”
3. Say “no” graciously but firmly. “How happier and calmer we’d all be if we realized that there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to do all we intend to over the holidays,” Dr. Arvon continues.
Prioritize your “to do” list, she recommends. “Buying gifts for the kids may be number-one, but be sure to put the nice-but-not-necessary items way down the list,” Dr. Arvon says. “If the outdoor holiday lights don’t get strung, well, so be it. Get to the bottom of the list if you have time. If you don’t, don’t sweat it. Your shine is far more important than the shine of outdoor lights.”