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Surviving Holiday Stress

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Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health

Holiday shopping, cooking, socializing, and planning can be big stressors during the holidays. Even fun family gatherings can take their toll. According to Aruni Nan Futuronsky, the Retreat & Renewal program director at Kripalu Center, it’s never a bad idea to hone your holiday survival skills. "Learning to relax can be fun if you’re realistic," says Futuronsky. "Just a little effort brings immediate and lasting results."

With more than 30 years of experience teaching thousands of people to relax, renew, and heal body, mind, and spirit, we have a few ideas about how to make the holiday time a little more manageable. Here are some simple tips for managing holiday stress:

  • Notice how your body feels throughout the day and in different situations. Are you holding your breath or clenching your jaw? Noticing the physiological markers of stress is the first step to alleviating it.
  • Cultivate the habit of loosening up your body and shaking off tension. Whether you are in an airplane or shopping mall you can shrug your shoulders, give yourself a hug, tuck your chin to your chest or simply yawn to release tension in your upper body.
  • Can’t resist holiday goodies? Drink at least 64 ounces of water a day to offset the effects of sugar, alcohol, caffeine, and turkey with all the trimmings.
  • A few deep, slow breaths go a long way to helping your body unwind and clearing your mind. Set a timer or post sticky notes on your computer monitor as a reminder to breathe deeply at least three times a day. Transcend tension in traffic or on your commute by taking a few deep breaths, making sure to exhale completely.
  • Never mind the errands, put yourself into "time out." Just five to 15 minutes of sitting quietly or stretching out on your bed will do wonders for your mood. Consider making at least one area of your home off limits to anyone but you.
  • Definitely try to spend some time outdoors everyday," Futuronsky adds. "As the weather gets colder and we spend so much time indoors, it’s easy to get out of sync with natural rhythms."