We may dub the holidays “the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” but for most of us, it is a stressful time. Throw in finals for school and trying to decide on a life path after college and it can be downright overwhelming. Here are some tips to help you manage your stress this holiday season.
1. Don’t Forget to Breathe!
Simply put, our breathing gets weird when we get stressed. We take shallow or rapid breaths as our stress progresses. This can actually make your stress feel even worse. To remedy this, we can use deep breathing techniques. These work to help reverse this response and relax ourselves. Try a simple 4-8 count breathing exercise. Inhale for a 4 count, breathing through your belly and not through your chest, and then exhale for a count of 8. Imagine the stress leaving your body as you exhale. This is great to use in tense situations (we are looking at you, final exams!)
2. Get Some Exercise
Exercise is a known mood booster, and it can help so much when you are feeling anxious or stressed out. Aim for 20 minutes of exercise each day. Try walking with a friend (furry friends count!) or taking your stress out at the gym. Ice skating is always a fun way to get exercise when it is freezing outside.
3. Spend Time Outside
Outside time can help manage seasonal depression. It is proven that just a few minutes each day can boost our moods, increase our self-esteem, and reduce stress. Why? One reason is that exposing your skin to the sun is vital to get your body vitamin D. So strap on those snow boots and coat, and aim to get outside for at least 15 minutes each day. Even better, combine this with the tip above and get your exercise outside every day!
4. Take Your Time To Connect
You may feel disconnected from your friends during the holidays because of family time. Make sure you plan to see them during winter break. Video calls are an excellent alternative if you can’t meet in person. There’s nothing wrong with feeling overwhelmed by family. Enjoy the holiday season with some friends.
5. Plan In Advance and Don’t Be Afraid to Say “No”
It can always feel like you are always on the go during the holiday season. It is important for humans to know what to expect. Rituals or schedules keep us feeling balanced. Plan your holiday schedule ahead of time to manage expectations of family, friends, and school requirements. Adults and teens rarely do well when they are rushed. Don’t be afraid to say no to holiday parties that pop up and do not fit in your schedule. If it doesn’t bring you joy, cut it out of your schedule.
Plan down time in your schedule for relaxing or doing other things you love to do. A day or two off once a week is a good rule of thumb.
6. Get Good Sleep
Rest is important for human beings. Teenagers need between 8 to 10 hours of sleep a night, but rarely get that. Creating a nightly routine is a wonderful way to have good sleep habits. Turn off all electronics at least 30 minutes before bed. Do some breathing techniques or yoga to help lull yourself to sleep. Again, don’t be afraid to say no to things that may make you miss out on your rest.
7. Eat Healthy!
Yes, the holiday season (and finals season!) is tempting with all the sweet treats and easy to grab junk food. Enjoy your holiday favorites, but try not to go overboard. Too much sugar can have a negative impact on your blood sugar and your mood. Make sure you are eating plenty of fresh fruit, veggies, and lean protein. Don’t forget to drink a lot of water and stay hydrated. Believe it or not, hydration works better than caffeine. Many studies suggest that being dehydrated can lead to higher levels of fatigue and lower levels of alertness and mood.
8. Talk It Out
Talk to family, friends, peers, or someone at school. Sometimes just saying the things that are stressing you out can help relieve them. Be sure to communicate with your family how you are feeling. If you feel your symptoms go above and beyond holiday stress, tell your parents and seek help.
The holiday seasons may be stressful, but deciding your life path doesn’t have to be. Visit scholarpath.com to learn more about how we can help.