Your normal life is already busy so it’s no wonder when you add in extra demands for the end-of-year holidays, stress levels skyrocket.
But why are we so stressed? During the holidays, 69 percent of Americans are stressed about lack of time and 69 percent are stressed about lack of money, according to the American Psychological Association. There's a lot of added pressure for parents to make sure their children have "the best Christmas ever."
Americans spend about 42 hours a year on holiday activities, including buying and wrapping presents, attending holiday parties and traveling to and from family gatherings. While it may be possible to opt out of some events, other celebrations may be non-negotiable.
When the stress gets to be too much, instead of turning to holiday treats, try these scientifically backed simple tricks to keep your sanity.
Meditation has deep roots in Southeast Asia and was made popular in the 1960s by The Beatles, according to project-meditate.org. Studies have shown that meditation can decrease cortisol, the stress hormone, by helping people to better cope when stressful situations occur.
There are many types of meditation, including self-guided and mantra meditation and yoga. If you need more instruction, you can also use an online-led meditation guide.
2. Chew gum
Double your pleasure and potentially triple your fun this holiday season. Add a pack or two next time you’re checking out at the grocery store. A 2008 study showed that people who chewed gum had lower cortisol levels and felt less anxiety than those who didn’t. As an added bonus, chewing gum can also make you more alert.
3. Pucker up
You might want to put the mistletoe up early this year. Kissing someone can increase oxytocin and decrease cortisol and spending quality time with a romantic partner has also been shown to reduce stress levels.
4. Power nap
Sometimes you might want to curl up and sleep your anxieties away, but that’s not practical when it’s the middle of the workday or you have to pick up children from school. Take a power nap during lunch for just 10 to 20 minutes to help decrease cortisol. Find a quiet area so you can get the most out of your nap with no distractions. You might fight to wake up at first, but you should feel well-rested within 5 minutes.
5. Laugh it off
Thank goodness for viral videos. Laughing makes you feel good by giving you an endorphin high and lowering your anxiety. Try watching a funny YouTube video or check out the Have You Seen This? page. Even more good news — the effects of laughing can last up to 24 hours.
6. Eat a banana
Put down the leftover Halloween candy and reach for the fruit bowl instead. Eating a banana can boost potassium and regulate your blood sugar, and that helps you feel calm.
7. Turn off your phone
Technology is here to stay, but with it comes added stress of 24-hour access to work duties and social media. Turn off your phone so you can't check your email, texts or Facebook notifications. At first you might feel like you're missing an arm, but it’s a good life skill to learn how to live without your phone, for at least a couple of hours.
Give yourself time to decompress from your day by reading a real-life book, or take this time to give meditation a try.
What do you do to relieve stress? Let us know in the comments.