The holidays are a notoriously busy time – filled with fun, family and festivities. Those things are amazing, but they can come with their fair share of stress as well. Nothing can throw off a healthy lifestyle like complicated travel arrangements, sleeping in unfamiliar surroundings and non-stop baked goods. Honestly, it can feel like a herculean task to take care of yourself when you find yourself out of your regular routine.
We all enjoy the holidays more when we make sure our personal health and welfare are taken into account. It just isn’t possible to get the most out of our celebrations if we’re plagued by stress and the side effects that come with it.
Getting enough rest, eating properly and taking time to decompress from the hubbub surrounding us will make this time of year not only more enjoyable, but better for our overall health too. Worried about how you can do that while still making merry? Here are 10 easy ways to stay calm, cool and collected this season.
1. Bring Your Own Pillow
Whether you’re staying in a hotel or in your childhood bed, it can be distinctly more difficult to get quality shut eye when you’re away from your own home. So, why not take a little bit of home with you? Bringing your own pillow helps avoid the ever dreaded ceiling tile that some hotels like to provide to rest your head on, while also helping you to retain some familiarity in your night-time routine.
2. Keep to a Schedule
Speaking of routines, if you can in any way stick to the one you’ve established pre-holiday madness it will help. Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day will ensure that your circadian rhythms aren’t disrupted – which means you’ll be able to get more meaningful and consistent rest each night and have more productive days.
3. Sleep in a Cool Room
As the weather begins to cool down, the flannel pajamas and fireplaces crank up. These are all cozy pleasures, but when the time comes to turn in for the night, be sure that the room isn’t too toasty. Keeping the room between 60 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit will encourage your body to produce melatonin, which helps you not only fall asleep more quickly but helps you to stay asleep longer.
4. Pass the Tryptophan
Tryptophan is a naturally occurring compound in some foods that has been shown to make us sleepy. Nuts, seeds, bananas, honey, eggs and that glass of warm milk your mother suggested (dairy in general is a source) can all deliver.
5. Avoid Excess Caffeine
When you’re expected at multiple events and have tons of shopping left to do before you catch that red eye back home, the temptation can be high to load up on coffee all day. Don’t! Not only can excess caffeine make you feel jittery and even more stressed, it can impact your ability to sleep at night – which creates a vicious cycle. Not a coffee fan? Keep in mind that caffeine can be sneaky – showing up in chocolate, some teas and many soft drinks too.
6. Keep it Natural
While avoiding caffeinated teas helps, partaking in many herbal varieties can aid in relaxing your body and mind, especially at night. There are many yummy blends available with stress relief and bedtime in mind, but plain old chamomile still remains a tried and true favorite for it’s ability to reduce inflammation and anxiety while promoting sleepiness.
7. Go For Walks
No matter where you’re spending your holidays, taking a few moments to get outside can do wonders for your stress levels. Physical activity has been proven to increase endorphins, which make you feel happier and more relaxed while decreasing feelings of fatigue. Talk about a natural boost! You can start feeling the effects in as little as 10 minutes, so get out and get moving.
8. Hit The Mat
There’s a reason that yoga has been a go-to wellness activity for thousands of years. It can be done anyplace with enough space for a mat, focuses on mindfulness and breathing while simultaneously strengthening and stretching muscles. All of that adds up to a routine that can decrease stress, aid in sleep quality and promote overall health.
You’ve placed an “out-of-town” notice on your email, shut down your laptop and delegated your tasks at work – so why are you still looking at your phone or tablet? The temptation to check social media or beat that next level on that game about birds with attitude problems can be high – but resist. Some evidence is turning up that increased screen time and higher stress markers can go hand in hand – so close those apps and walk away.
The holidays are about spending time with friends and family – enjoy them! Research indicates that stress is reduced, feelings of well-being are elevated and even longevity is potentially increased when we nurture the positive relationships we have in our lives. At the end of the day, it’s the people in our lives that make all of the travel, baking and merrymaking worth it anyway.