When we’re stressed, our bodies create hormones, like cortisol, that run through our systems. This creates a natural “fight or flight” response, where our heart rates go up and we start breathing heavier. This response is innate because we used to use it to protect ourselves from predators back in the day; now, it comes up quite often in much less dangerous, but still serious, situations.
The problem is, many of the things that might instigate that response in you – work, a stressful call from a family member, a picture on Facebook of your friends out without you – come at you all day every day, particularly through your phone and computer. Because we have these devices on us at all times, stressors literally follow us around – it can be increasingly difficult to get a break from all the stress.
The holidays – from Thanksgiving through the New Year – can be an especially stressful time of year, with more demands (work, family, friends, parties, cooking, shopping, and more) taking up even more of your time. While this time of year is supposed to feel joyful, it can sometimes feel as though you’re always preparing to get to the joy – and never truly getting there.
That’s why it’s become extra important in this plugged-in era to take some time to unplug and de-stress. It can sound nearly impossible, with the demands on your time coming in from all sides, but remember: everyone deserves a break. Make a pact with yourself to take an hour a day during this holiday season to unplug and unwind. But how can you ensure that you stay away from your devices?
While the holidays can certainly be an incredibly busy time, it’s vital to fit in daily fitness as a means to focus on you. Exercise boosts endorphins and releases stress – studies show that only 20 minutes per day can provide you with these benefits. Turn your phone on silent and let the music bump through your headphones; then jam the time away in an exercise class, on the treadmill, or in the yoga studio.
In other healthy strategies, take some time to cook yourself a delicious, wholesome meal. Truly focus on the act of cooking, smell the aromas, and listen to the boiling, sizzling goodness. Make sure it’s a wholesome one; healthy food, balanced with protein, fiber, and carbs, ensures your mood stays level, rather than spiking with a sugar intake of cookies and chocolate.
Get crafty. Activities like knitting or doing a puzzle are repetitious ones, which can be soothing while also ridding your mind of intruding, stressful thoughts. Pick one of your favorite ways to get crafty and let your mind wander.
In even more soothing fashion, hop in the bath tub. Light some candles, grab a book, and read the hour away soaking in warm water. You literally can’t be tempted to bring your phone in with you (or it may get soaked – not worth the risk). Instead, let your mind wander into the whole new world of a novel.
If sitting inside makes you anxious, head out for a walk. This can be a particularly effective technique when you’re in the office, as it allows you to step away from the computer and clear your head. Don’t take your devices on your walk; instead, take the time to notice the world around you. Take stock of the leaves, the snow, and the beauty in the every day. We promise it will help take your mind off all those perturbing stressors.
How do you de-stress and unplug during the holidays? Send us your ideas using the comments below.