Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.
Here in the Reagan household that means my family will come together to enjoy good food and give thanks for our many blessings.
But I know for many of you, this time of year is far from the “most wonderful time of the year.”
Because of stress… lots of stress.
There are gifts to get. Food to prepare.
And let’s not forget about the extended family time that can make you feel like hiding out in the bathroom.
The American Psychological Association has found that nearly half of all women in the United States experience heightened stress during the holidays.
Older folks are another vulnerable group impacted by increased stress during the holidays, especially if they’ve experienced loss over the last year.
It’s impossible to avoid all stress.
But how you deal with stress can make a great difference in your health. Here are some stress-busting tips to help you get through the holidays.
First, you want to set the right mood in your home with music.
The holidays are filled with music.
But if you feel like pulling your hair out when you hear “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” over and over again, it’s time to change the channel.
Research has found that listening to soothing music can reduce heart rate and blood pressure, and help ease anxiety.
Try listening to nature sounds, like a rolling brook or chirping birds. Or, switch to the classical music station to help you relax and ease your stress.
And, while you’re listening to that soothing music, spend some quality time with a furry friend.
Without a doubt, Ellie is my favorite stress buster.
Spending time with her and giving her some pets automatically calms me down.
And for good reason.
Studies have proven spending some time with a cat or dog can slow your heart rate and helps release “feel good” hormones.
Interacting with a pet may even lower your blood pressure.
So, if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed about all you need to do, take a 10-minute break and cuddle up with your pet.
If don’t have a cat or dog, consider volunteering some time in a local animal shelter.
They can often use the extra help during the holidays when their regular staff is taking time off.
If you’ve never tried meditation before, the holidays are a great time to start.
The practice of meditation has been found to deliver numerous health benefits for older folks.
Studies have shown meditation can slow the progression of dementia-related diseases, like Alzheimer’s, improve digestion, lift mood, and improve memory.
It’s also promotes relaxation and feelings of calmness.
During the holidays, we all need to take a break and just breathe.
Taking 20 minutes of your busy day to just sit still and meditate can work wonders to ease stress and anxiety.
And finally, at the end of a long, stressful day, Karen and I like to sit down and enjoy a good laugh with a funny movie or TV show.
Laughing lowers levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, and boosts those “feel good” endorphins.
There are loads of funny holiday classics.
My favorites are A Christmas Story, Home Alone, and Elf.
If you haven’t seen them, check them out.
It’s impossible to banish all stress from your life, especially this time of year.
But by remembering to focus on yourself… and your health… you can make the holidays a much more enjoyable time this year.
Also, if you’d like to see another solution to naturally cope with “holiday stress…”