5 Ways to Reduce Stress and Bring More Joy This Season

The holiday season is upon us, and while efforts to entertain, shop, decorate, and socialize can make the season bright, they can also be overwhelming. The American Psychological Association reports that 8 out of 10 people experience problematic levels of stress during the holiday season, and this is even more pronounced in women.

Studies show that women are nearly twice as likely to suffer with extreme stress and anxiety, and when you sprinkle a dash of financial worry, a pinch of family conflict, and two tablespoons of an overbooked social calendar, this becomes a recipe for stress. Here we’re offering advice for managing stress and bringing more joy to your life this season.

How Stress Manifests in Women

Everyone is familiar with the headaches, anxiety, or overeating that can come with increased stress, but you may not be aware that neurobiological and hormonal differences between men and women can cause our perception of and response to stress to vary significantly. While both men and women are adversely affected by prolonged or repeated exposure to stress, in women, this presents greater risk to encounter the following:

This list represents a mere fraction of what women can encounter if stress is left unchecked. Be sure that you are applying the same level of focused energy toward managing your own stress levels as you do creating a memorable holiday for those you love. Now, let’s examine some helpful tips to bring down the stress this season.

Ways to Reduce Holiday Stress and Bring More Joy

Coping with stress is a year-round battle for some, but the holiday season presents a unique set of challenges.. While there are a number of considerations, the following five tips may offer some help:

  1. Set and stick to a budget to avoid adding financial pressure
    This time of year comes with hopes of beautifully wrapped gifts and lots fun and food with friends and family – all of which can to put a drain on your finances. Try to set a realistic spending limit, and avoid further financial worry. And remember, sometimes the best gift is simply spending time with our loved ones.
  2. Set realistic expectations for holiday events 
    As women, we oftentimes have trouble saying “no” to family responsibilities. In turn, during the holidays, many of us take on the role of shopper, party planner, baker, chef, referee, host, and more! When considering everything on your holiday schedule, it’s important to know your limits and make sure you’re carving out time for rest.
  3. Get by with a little help from your friends
    Part of the joy of the season is celebrating with friends and loved ones! Invest your time with those who uplift you and offer positive energy. Social connection is an important part of our overall wellbeing.
  4. Pick your battles
    Sometimes, this time of year can bring up unresolved conflicts with family or loved ones. When facing these conflicts, try to find a way to agree-to-disagree and move on, and if that doesn’t work, move on yourself! Take a short walk and a deep breath to give yourself a quick break when you need it.
  5. Most importantly, take care of yourself!
    Paying attention to your own physical and emotional needs is of critical importance to not only thrive during the holidays, but into next year and beyond.

    • Make sure you are getting plenty of sleep on a regular schedule, so you can reset.
    • Exercise regularly to improve your circulation and cardiovascular health, and to promote the release of endorphins in your brain to naturally reduce stress and improve the quality of your sleep.
    • Enjoy those holiday treats, but try to keep balanced nutrition in mind. Healthy eating will provide the energy you need to make it through the holiday to-do list!
    • Seek support. If you’re finding the holidays especially stressful, remember you’re not alone. It may be helpful to speak with a licensed mental health counselor. At Axia Women’s Health, we now offer counseling and behavioral health services in a confidential, convenient environment for our patients.

It also goes without saying that your levels of stress should be a consideration beyond the holiday season. Healthy eating, exercise, positive social interaction, and support from your healthcare team should be the foundation of a happy, healthy life.

As your partner for compassionate, progressive women’s healthcare, the providers of Axia Women’s Health are always here for you and want to wish you and your loved ones a happy, healthy holiday season!

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