6 Ways to Combat Stress and Enjoy the Holiday Spirit

By Phillip Miner | Posted on December 14, 2017 

This time of year is dark and cold, and nature is still and silent. There’s very little sunlight, very little activity, and much of nature is in hibernation. But in this environment of stillness and quietude, there is a bright celebration of lights, joy, and love -- Christmas. Christmas is an outer expression of an inner phenomenon; when we are still and quiet, there arises within us a message of brightness and love.  

If we miss this real essence of Christmas, the holidays can stress us out. From entertaining guests, to keeping track of parties, to cleaning and cooking in preparation, the winter months are demanding. In fact, according to a 2012 survey conducted by Think Finance and reported on by NBC News, up to 45% of people surveyed say the holidays, especially Christmas, give them so much stress that they want to skip them altogether!

While that idea may be tempting, there is a way to have your fruitcake and eat it too, so to speak. These tips can help you keep your cool when the stress of the holidays gets you heated, and soon you’ll find yourself looking forward to the holidays again.

Tips for Lifting Your Holiday Spirit

1) Try yoga.

The holidays won’t be fun for yourself or your loved ones if you’re cranky and miserable due to a lack of self-care. Maintain a healthy diet and a regular exercise routine. A healthier body means a healthier mind. If you have never tried yoga before, the holidays could be a great time to learn. Join some yoga classes near you, or book yourself into a yoga retreat. If you are traveling this year, try this rejuvenating yoga routine to recover from travel fatigue and hangovers.

2) Learn some new healthy recipes.

Craving something yummy? Ditch the holiday cheesecake and try these delicious and very healthy recipes from this blog.

Try to increase the number of citrus fruits and mangoes in your diet. The scent of citrus boosts feelings of well-being and alleviates stress by upping levels of norepinephrine, a hormone that affects mood; in addition, eating mangoes may alter your blood chemistry and send a wave of calm over your body. Both of these findings are reported by Health.com.

3) Taking time for yourself can result in making more time for others.

According to Psychology Today, not taking time for yourself, not practicing effective relaxation techniques, and not having a healthy amount of self-love can lead people to overeating, alcoholism, arguments with your loved ones, and neglecting healthy habits. While it is important to be generous during the holidays, you can’t serve from an empty vessel, and you need to love yourself before you can love others. In fact, Psychology Today recommends a regular meditation practice as a way to mitigate holiday stress! Learn some good ways to cultivate your own meditation practice.

4) Creativity creates calm!

The holidays offer plenty of opportunities to get creative. Whether it’s making gifts for those you love, crafting decorations with your family, or experimenting with new recipes, creativity can help you find joy and a sense of satisfaction, helping you relax. Creativity can also help you create calm within yourself through expressing by feelings in a pressure-free environment. Violet Roots suggests that you take a moment to write down everything that is weighing you down, in full stream-of-consciousness mode. Even this simple act of writing what’s on your mind can release internal pressure and help you re-center yourself.

5) Unplug.

Modern day communication tools are essential to our daily lives, but there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Technology can easily contribute to your stress, so try unplugging from your digital devices during the holidays, at least for a couple of days. Try doing something with your friends instead of watching TV. Instead of hanging out on social media, read a book or listen to good old Christmas classics.

6) Serve and celebrate.

Art of Living founder and humanitarian H. H. Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar often says that we are here on planet Earth to serve each other and humanity as a whole. While this is indeed true, humanity includes yourself, too. And being generous isn’t limited to just giving expensive gifts or throwing the most lavish of parties. Being generous can also mean complimenting others, enjoying another’s company, or giving a hands-on gift like a gentle massage to your partner. Celebrating this season of giving by volunteering or serving a good cause will certainly bring wonderful memories of your holidays through the coming years.

Wishing you all a very Happy Christmas!

Phillip Miner writes his own spirituality blog, Light Club. He also writes on topics of spirituality for publications such as Hinduism Today.