The holidays are upon us with Thanksgiving this week. HOORAY!
With the holidays comes fun times with family and friends, good food, shopping and many holiday parties.
It's a great time of the year, some say THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR.
While it may be glorious for some, most of us find it a bit on the stressful side. With food to prepare, a house to clean and prepare for out-of-town guests, family arguments, financial stresses, crowds, back-to-back diet busting parties, the list could go on and on....
We totally get it. That's why we've rounded up 16 ways to help you dodge the seasonal blues and stay happy, healthy and energized.
From quick stress-survival strategies to mood-brightening foods, here's your cheat sheet to holiday cheer.
COMBAT HOLIDAY STRESS
GET PLENTY OF SUNSHINE
Whether you live in the gloomiest or the sunniest place on Earth, you need to make sure you get plenty of light to boost your mood. A good mood can make all the difference when it comes to dealing with stressful situations.
Sunlight stimulates the production of feel-good serotonin and also helps relieve seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which impacts millions of Americans every year, says Judith Orloff, MD, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles.
To ease SAD symptoms, spend time outdoors or near a window on sunny days, or ask your doc about phototherapy (a treatment using a box that emits full-spectrum light).
Citrus has an amazing aroma - so clean and refreshing! Researchers studying depression have found that certain citrus fragrances boost feelings of well-being and alleviate stress by upping levels of norepinephrine, a hormone that affects mood.
For an all-day pick-me-up, dab a little lemon or orange essential oil on a handkerchief to tuck in your pocket and sniff throughout the day. Or, better yet, slice up an orange or grapefruit as a healthy snack and gain the extra nutrients!
BONUS: Infuse some citrus into your iced Oolong tea for a refreshing beverage that will keep you stress-free and energized all day long.
Whether you are an exercise guru or someone who counts walking to the fridge for a snack as steps on their pedometer, walking can do wonders for knocking stress out.
Aim for a brisk, half-hour walk every day indoors or out.
SIMPLIFY & SAY NO
Around the holidays, we tend to kick it into overdrive with hosting, cooking, shopping, sending out cards and just trying to please everybody.
This can quickly lead to burn-out and you definitely can't focus on enjoying the holidays with all of that on your shoulders.
This year, say 'no' to at least one social event or activity that you honestly don't have time for and don't worry about what others will think. Do something for yourself. Give yourself time to breathe and enjoy all the season has to offer.
STICK TO YOUR ROUTINE
Keep up with your regular day-to-day routine as much as possible and work in your holiday fun where you can.
Daily life is stressful enough without the added pressures of the holidays. Keeping up your normal routine will definitely keep you feeling like you can handle anything. If it doesn't work in your schedule, then exercise the tip above and just say 'no' this year.
Try not to take things too seriously this holiday season. Sit back, relax and enjoy the fun and laughter with your family and friends.
Whether you are sitting at home or out at a party, don't be afraid to let loose and have some fun. That's what the holidays are all about - reminiscing with family and friends, looking at old photos, or telling funny jokes you've heard throughout the year. Spending that quality time will help melt those stresses away.
DON'T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF
My mom always used to say this to me because I have always been a perfectionist. Being a perfectionist is exhausting. No one is perfect even though you may think they are from their photos posted on social media.
This year, stop obsessing over doing it all. The world is not going to end if the house is a little cluttered or dinner is on the table a few minutes late. "Focus your energy on enjoying the people in your life," says Donna Schempp, the program director for the Family Caregiver Alliance.
Don't sweat the small stuff and your holiday will be much more enjoyable!
Sometimes the holidays bring out the worst in our family members. You haven't seen each other in a while and your opinions clash. Or, your older brother still picks on you even though you are both in your 40s and have since matured - or so you thought.
Mealtimes can be the ideal times for these arguments and heated discussions, so why not take your group out to eat, instead. Being in public often discourages loud voices and bad behavior. After all, who wants to make a scene?
START NEW TRADITIONS
Sometimes the holidays can be a reminder of who is no longer with you to celebrate. A spouse, parent, child or friend has passed away and the traditions you used to look forward to are no longer happy memories.
This could be a great time to start fresh with a new tradition or custom if you are lonely or grieving. You could experiment with a different culture's customs, or invite isolated friends/colleagues over and start some new traditions.
TURN OFF YOUR PHONE
Constant cell phone buzzes and email alerts keep us in a perpetual fight-or-flight mode due to bursts of adrenaline. Not only is this exhausting, but it contributes to mounting stress levels, especially in women.
Learn how to unplug and go tech-free for a day or two. What better time to turn your gadgets off than during a holiday get-together? Enjoy spending time with your family and friends without worry.
TEA & HONEY
When you are surrounded by people at a gathering, in a small, stuffy room, chances are you'll be sharing more than just conversation. Germs thrive in the winter time because we are often cooped up indoors surrounded by other germy people.
Honey has some amazing antioxidant and antibacterial properties which can help keep your immune system strong during the holidays. Oolong tea, especially, also contains large quantities of antioxidants to help keep your immune system healthy along with some other amazing health benefits. Plus, you'll get an instant kick and energy for the long haul.
Add in some honey to your morning oatmeal, cup of tea, smoothie, or with your peanut butter sandwich. Either way you enjoy it, here's a tip: The darker the honey, the more powerful the antioxidant punch.
Just be sure to choose your tea wisely as not all tea is created equal. Many store brands contain hidden pesticides that steep into your cup - definitely not an ingredient I want in my body. Do your research and choose only the most pure Oolong tea available.
This goes along with sticking to your daily routine (if your daily routine contains eating a hearty breakfast each morning). When things get hectic, we tend to skip meals to save time or we simply forget to eat.
If you are one to just grab your coffee and go, you might want to take some extra time in the morning to enjoy a good breakfast. Why?
High doses of caffeine on an empty stomach can cause blood sugar levels to spike, which can cause attention problems and irritability, says New York City–based clinical psychologist Joe Cilona, PsyD.
This is not good when it comes to dealing with holiday stresses.
Solution? Wake up earlier and make time for a nutritious breakfast before you head out the door. Also, swap out your daily cup of joe for 2 cups of WuLong tea which has been shown to regulate insulin spikes and keep you from getting hangry! With a small dose of caffeine, you are sure to get the energy boost you need without the crash later on.
TURN UP THE TUNES
Anxious? Listen to your favorite music, whether it's Jingle Bell Rock, Mozart, or the latest from Jay-Z.
Research from the University of Maryland shows that hearing music you love can relax blood vessels and increase blood flow. That not only calms you down but is good for your heart, too.
So blast your favorite tunes and do a little dance. The short dance break will boost your mood and clear your head when things get a little hairy. Include your spouse, kids, grandkids, WHOEVER! to join in with you and have some fun with it!
DITCH THE SWEETS
Sugar cravings can be in high gear this time of year with all of the pies, cookies, cakes and special treats. These decadent, diet-crushers are EVERYWHERE!
The taste of sugar releases endorphins that calm and relax us and offer a natural "high."
Sweets just taste good, too. And that preference gets reinforced by rewarding ourselves with sweet treats, which can make you crave it even more. With all that going for it, why wouldn’t we crave sugar?
So, this season, ditch the holiday cheesecake and try a delicious mango pie instead. The sweet, tangy scent of mangoes—whether they're fresh or jarred—may alter your blood chemistry and send a wave of calm over your body, research from Japan shows.
PLAN A REAL VACATION
Time off during the holidays can be really nice. However, it's only really nice if you have time to relax and unwind. Have you ever needed a vacation from your vacation?
During or after the holidays, plan to take a REAL vacation. Not to visit family and not to fulfill any kind of work obligation. Plan a vacation for just you and your immediate family (or just your spouse) to unwind from all of the chaos.
Taking at least four or five days off work & everyday life dramatically lowers your stress level. Go some place far, far away or stay in town at a hotel for a couple of nights. Being a tourist in your hometown can be kind of fun! Whatever you do, make it a time of relaxation to focus on destressing and 'you' time.
The holidays may drive you to your breaking point, but don't focus on the bad.
Negative thinking can trigger your body's stress response, just as a real threat does. Remember, it's time to celebrate with your family and friends (even if they do stress you out!). An optimistic outlook will help you cope with challenges that come your way.
Take a deep breath and remember, don't sweat the small stuff. :)
Hopefully all of these tips will help you to have a WONDERFUL holiday season with less stress and more fun!
Just remember to keep drinking your 2 cups of Oolong tea each day to curb those unhealthy cravings, keep your immune system strong, boost your energy, clear your mind and help you relax during the holiday season and beyond.
Serve up a big batch for your friends and family on Thanksgiving or even brine your turkey with it. However you choose to enjoy it, HAPPY SIPPING and HAPPY THANKSGIVING!
What are some ways you handle holiday stress? Let me know in the comments below!
Yours in Health & Happiness,
P.S. Know someone who loves tea as much as we do? Give the gift of health to your family and friends this year with a box (or 2) of our pure, premium Oolong tea! The tea-lover on your list will LOVE IT!