Posted by Dr. Shilpi Agarwal on March 1, 2017
If you’re starting to notice trouble with sleep, mood, and relaxation, you’re not alone. Studies show that anxiety significantly increases during the holiday season. Feelings of anxiety may be manifested as trouble falling asleep, difficulty with digestion, or simply being unable to quiet the mind. Instead of rushing to the doctor to refill your Xanax prescription, here are 4 natural methods to reduce anxiety this holiday season.
1) Exercise: Studies show that consistent exercise can be helpful in reducing anxiety. One theory as to why this may help is that the mind is distracted during exercise. Additionally, exercise releases endorphins in the brain that help us to feel happier and more content. Aim to exercise 3-4x/week for at least thirty minutes. This can be high intensity, or even brisk walking. If you are feeling short on time, splitting your exercise to fifteen minutes in the morning and fifteen in the evening can be another way to get in that workout.
2) Make a List: It’s no secret that the chaos of holiday time can also contribute to increased anxiety and a sense of being overwhelmed. If you aren’t one to make lists, now is the time! Research suggests that the act of making lists can be vital in reducing feelings of anxiety. You can also use an app like Wunderlist. Creating lists helps you to have actionable items that have a definite start and finish. This small bit of organization can go a long way in reducing feelings of anxiety and stress.
3) Treat Yourself: The holiday season often means big spending and lots of gifts for loved ones and friends. During this time, you may feel tapped out and in need of some major self love. This is the perfect time to treat yourself. Splurge on a mani-pedi or a nice lunch out. Taking time to focus inward and reward yourself can help you forget about the stress of the holidays and leave you feeling recharged.
4) Massage: Adding massage to your daily routine around the holidays can also reduce anxiety. Applying heat with the massage has been shown to reduce cortisol levels, a stress hormone that gets revved up when we are chronically stressed or anxious.
Additionally, heat therapy can loosen muscles and increase blood flow, which we certainly need after longer nights staying up planning and preparing for holidays. We also know that massage helps release oxytocin, a feel-good chemical in the brain that can bring about a general sense of feeling calm and relaxed. Try the Wahl Hot/Cold Massager, as a daily, self-massager that you can have right at your fingertips.
What are your favorite ways to reduce stress and anxiety during the holidays? Have you tried any of these and been totally surprised? Tweet me @sheknows and @shilpimd to share!
Dr. Shilpi Agarwal is a board-certified Family Medicine and Integrative and Holistic Medicine physician with special interest in Women’s Health, and Preventative and Integrative Medicine. She believes that leading a healthy lifestyle can be the key to optimal health. She also maintains a blog on Everyday Health.com.