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5 Ways to Melt Off Holiday Stress

Practice
Christmas tree

Max Oppenheim/Thinkstock

Don't let your holiday stress accumulate.

Who designs gingerbread kits? That is what I would like to know. And do they not understand gravity? My kids and I struggled mightily to assemble our house, using a lot of a precious Saturday and consuming entirely too much icing, and the darn thing still collapsed. I felt like it was a metaphor for how I feel this time of year: kind of listing to one side, possibly flattening. I’m sure I’m not alone, so for this week’s Healthy Habit, let’s look at five ways to melt down that holiday stress, so that it won’t accumulate so much on our roof to begin with.

  • You’ve heard of Buy One, Get One. This variation is Do One, Block One. For every party you attend, block off time for quietly recharging your batteries. Unless you are a complete extrovert, spending time around other people—no matter how much you like them—can be draining. Literally block off on your calendar when you are going to retreat for R&R with your own darn self for an hour.
  • Boost your ginger uptake. I’ve taken ginger in the winter to avoid colds. Did you know there’s also research supporting its effects on stress and the body? A study on rats showed that dietary ginger has naturally occurring compounds that protect against stress. Bring on the ginger tea and ginger-veggie stir-fries.
  • Sleep like you are famous. Winston Churchill was fond of two-hour naps. Sleep advocate (and publisher) Arianna Huffington is careful to charge her phone outside of her bedroom, and winds down with a hot bath with lavender and Epsom salts. Mariah Carey reportedly surrounds her bed with humidifiers. What’s my point? Sleep with passion, nap with dedication, and do it all with a whiff of glam, as if your fans are counting on you to be fabulous and rested.
  • Try Valerian. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, the root of the plant makes people feel more relaxed. The theory is that it increases GABA in the brain. As always, check with your doctor, and note that some people find that it makes them more revved up, not less, so experiment to see if it works for you or not. Valerian comes as a tea, tincture or dried in capsules.
  • Strive for the least. I love writer Martha Beck, and she has written a nice question to ask yourself when you are stressed. “What is the absolute least I can do to improve this situation?” The least. No more of this trying your best stuff. Maybe it’s a store-bought pie, instead of making one from scratch. Maybe it’s talking a short walk instead of beating yourself up for missing the yoga class. For me, I’m going to buy the pre-fab gingerbread house next time and enjoy decorating it. Sometimes in life, and especially during the holidays, the path of least resistance is just as delicious.

Kathryn Drury Wagner

Kathryn Drury Wagner is a writer and editor based in Los Angeles. She is the author of Hawaii’s Strangest, Ickiest, Wildest Book Ever!, a science and natural history “gross out” for young readers.  


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