Let’s face it, the holiday season can be the best time of year for some, but for many, it can also be the most stressful. We can only fit so much into a 24 hour day. From trying to make time to see family members, balancing work, and enjoying the holiday season, time and calm may slip away from us because we are so busy. Stress is a part of life. With an addict, though, it can be particularly dangerous. Stress, especially holiday stress, is one of the most common causes of relapses. Finding the time to destress in this busy world is challenging so I’ve put together a list of 15 things you can do to de-stress in 5 minutes or less and avoid a relapse.
When you’re feeling stressed at work or when you’re out and about, just escape to the bathroom, close your eyes, breathe in for a count of 8, hold your breath for a count of 8, then breathe out for a count of 8. This releases those feel-good chemicals called endorphins. Repeat this until you feel better. After this, breathe normally for several minutes and tell yourself, “I am relaxed and energized.”
2. Baby Animals
Did you know that looking at pictures of cute baby animals is an instant mood elevator? It lowers stress and helps concentration too!
3. Loosen your Jaw
Many of us carry tension in our jaw. To loosen the tension, “open your mouth wide for half a minute or so, breathing naturally through your nose. When you feel you’ve stretched a bit, allow your mouth to gently close. A simple way to reduce stress!
4. Focus on the Moment
Take time to appreciate the beauty surrounding you – whether it’s sounds, sights, smells or something pleasant to the touch, it will elevate your mood, lower stress and reduce cravings.
Another great stress reliever is gratitude! It is especially important during times of great stress to focus on the good things in life. Not sure where to start? Do you have a bed to sleep in? A roof over your head? Did you eat today? Can you see? Do you have hands to carry things? Focus on the little things that make your life better. A little gratitude can go a long way towards helping avoid a relapse!
The brain can’t distinguish between reality and imagination, so visualization can be a powerful tool to help you unwind quickly. See yourself at your favorite spot and make it as real as possible. On the beach? Hear the waves. In a field? Listen to the birds and the breeze whispering through the trees.
Slowly eat a banana. The potassium in a banana not only protects your body from stress, but it can improve energy. As you’re eating, take time to savor the smell, flavor, and texture.
8. Squeeze a Stress Ball
They are called stress balls for a reason! Repetitive motions are great stress relievers. Make sure you focus on the motion of your hand, the feel of the ball, its texture.
9. Turn your Cell Phone OFF
Let’s face it. The “on-call” mentality of today can be stressful. Where do you find time for you when you are at everyone’s beckon call? Turning off the phone for even a few uninterrupted minutes is empowering, establishes “me time”. And renews your sense of control over your life.
10. Step Away from the Computer
Staring at a computer screen without breaks increases stress. Take a break from it and be sure to turn it off at least an hour before bedtime for a more restful night’s sleep!
Music is known to relieve stress, especially classical music. Unfortunately, sometimes you just can’t get to a radio. If that’s the case, start humming. Studies have shown this relieves stress!
12. Chew gum
Chewing gum is particularly effective at relieving stress and focusing alertness while multitasking. Make sure you take a moment to immerse yourself in the taste and texture.
13. Eat or Drink Something Sweet
Now, this isn’t an invitation to binge, but the amount of sugar in a single piece of candy (like a Hershey’s kiss or butterscotch), will make your stress hormone drop. The result? An instant pick me up! Again, make sure you close your eyes and savor the taste and texture for a moment.
Laughter really is the best medicine. It releases those feel-good hormones called endorphins for an instant pick me up!
15. Naam Yoga
Yes, yoga. A quick way to release stress is to put pressure on the joint where your pointer and middle fingers meet your hand. So using the middle finger can literally relieve stress. Who knew?
I hope these tips work to relieve your holiday stress and help avoid a relapse during this busy holiday season! If you or a loved one is in need of additional help this season, contact me today! Help is always out there and NO ONE is ever alone.