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'Tis the Season for Stress! 10 Tips to Keep Your Cool Over the Holidays

Ahhh the holidays. They don't call it the "Most Wonderful Time of the Year" for no reason! Gatherings with family and loved ones are back this year as well as parties, concerts, blockbuster movies, and more. We have a lot to celebrate! Unfortunately, with all the cheer and joy can come a lot of extra stress. From work deadlines to travel to shopping crowds to family dynamics to loneliness, it seems next to impossible to avoid a little added anxiety this time of year.

If the past two years taught us anything, it's that there's a lot in life we have no control over! Fortunately, we can prioritize our wellbeing and take care of ourselves in order to weather any storms with much more ease. If the holiday scaries are coming after you right now, read on for some tips to keep them at bay and soften the ride.

1. Prioritize Sleep

This is first for a reason. A poor night's sleep can trickle down and disrupt your whole day, including energy, mood, appetite, and more. Find your sweet spot of length and aim for that every night. There's no catching up on the weekends or after the holidays! Schedule it. Prioritize it. Get it.

2. Cut Back on Caffeine

They don't call it "jitters" for no reason! If you're feeling extra on edge, simply cutting

back on caffeine can make a big difference. It can also affect sleep, so keep it minimal and early in the day.

3. Watch the Sugar & Carbs

What goes up, must come down! Stable blood sugar levels provide consistent energy, enable metabolic flexibility, and reduce stress on the body. Riding the blood sugar rollercoaster is a recipe for mood highs and lows. Go ahead and indulge — it's the holidays! Try selecting your favorites instead of mindlessly over-consuming. Love egg nog but find candy canes kinda meh? Keep high standards and be picky with your sweets!

4. Get Some Sun & Fresh Air

The sun may be setting before you leave the office these days, but try to fit in a quick morning or lunchtime walk. Sunlight helps balance our circadian rhythm which aids in sleep quality, energy, and appetite, among other important variables. If you feel extra lethargic or down this time of year, a sunlamp is a great investment.

5. Get Moving

Even a short burst of exercise can do wonders for anxiety and stress levels. Make that morning walk a brisk one or squeeze in some burpees between phone calls. Studies have shown about five minutes of aerobic exercise can begin to stimulate anti-anxiety effects.

6. Stay Hydrated

Odds are activity and alcohol levels are going up, so make sure your water intake reflects that. You'd be amazed how many small grievances like low energy and digestion can be remedied with proper hydration. Not sure how much is enough? Let your urine guide you — concentrated yellow means you probably need to up our intake. Crystal clear and running to the bathroom every half hour? You can probably cut back. You want a pale yellow flow.

7. Be Flexible

...but hold onto your important daily rituals. Your schedule may be packed and you'll probably have to forego some of your normal day-to-day, but if sitting in silence with your coffee in the morning or reading a chapter before bed makes you happy, don't give it up to fit in an obligation or chore. Rituals keep us centered, and centered keeps us calm.

8. Just Say No

You don't have to accept every invitation you receive or attend every event. Learn to embrace your personal boundaries without any guilt. If the idea of something drains you, politely decline. Your time is precious...remember, you could be sleeping!

9. Schedule Breaks

On that note, add some downtime to your calendar and stick to it. You may also want to block out that important sleep time and exercise. Yoga, simple stretching, or meditation is a great option for this slot.

10. Embrace the Chaos

Some stress is just inevitable. Know that it's temporary and just try to go with the flow. Acknowledge it in the moment, take a deep breath, sit with it, and then let it go.

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