Nobody can avoid holiday stress. A reasonable amount may even be good for you! Too much though, can lead to feeling overwhelmed or irritable. It may even cause physical symptoms such as anxiety, tension headaches, or an upset stomach.

The following steps may help you keep stress at a manageable level:

Recognize your stress triggers. Many things can trigger stress: situations or activities, times of day, days of the week, weather, holidays, the anniversary of an important event. Even people can cause you stress! The trick is to identify your biggest stressors and consider the healthiest way to manage your reaction. Exercise. Walking, cycling, swimming, running, or any physical activity can release pent-up frustrations while producing endorphins. These brain chemicals help fight stress!

Eat a healthy diet. A balanced diet can help stabilize your mood. Fruits and veggies (especially berries), whole grains, and almonds are all rich in vitamins and minerals that help with managing stress. So hit up your local farmer’s market or produce section and stock up on healthy eats! While it’s sometimes the season for eating, managing your junk food intake can help alleviate holiday stress.

Maintain relationships. Social connections may relieve stress and contribute to a positive attitude. While seeing friends or family in person is ideal, calling, texting, and social media also has an emotional benefit. Be careful with social media though. That can sometimes cause more stress as you’re trying to keep up with all the different social networks. Perhaps allow yourself a certain period of time to check social media accounts, such as 15 minutes, then get up and get moving!

Set limits. When it comes to obligations and opportunities, everyone has different boundaries. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or you’re not enjoying the activities you participate in, it may be time to take a step back. It’s OK to say “no” sometimes to give yourself a break when you need it.

Make time for hobbies you enjoy. Focusing on activities you enjoy may help put your problems in perspective. You may even find that a solution to a problem or plan of action forms while you’re engaging in a relaxing activity.

Find stress management strategies that work for you. Meditation, creative imagery, or visualization, deep-breathing exercises, yoga, and listening to relaxation clips are all good ways to release stress. Spending time in nature may also be helpful. Go for a hike or visit a local nature center. You could get in some exercise and appreciate nature at the same time!

Get a good night’s sleep. Sleep is one of the best ways to manage holiday stress, even though stress can sometimes make it hard to settle in for the night. If you struggle with getting enough rest, keeping a regular schedule can help your body stay on track. Try going to bed and waking up around the same time every day. Also, cutting back on caffeine or avoiding eating after dinner may make it easier for you to fall asleep.

Being aware of how you feel and what your mind and body need are a crucial part of managing your stress level. Remember that it’s OK to take a break, to take a walk, to vent, to sit around and do nothing for 30 minutes. If you’re feeling the crunch of the holiday season, try and remember at least one of these stress-reducing options.

Happy holidays from our credit union family to yours!