- Drink responsibly. Limit your alcohol intake to one drink every 2 hours in social situations. Have a glass of water in between drinks to avoid intoxication and dehydration. Your brain will thank you!
- Walk away. Don’t feel you must change anyone’s mind about politics, sports, or anything else for that matter. Engage in positive dialogue.
- Reach out. If something is upsetting you, sometimes the worst thing to do is hold it in while everyone else is celebrating. Confide in a trusted source.
- Don’t stress over shopping. Getting into fist fights over the newest TV or toy is clearly not what the holidays are about and will dramatically increase your stress levels. Is it really about the presents?
- It’s OK not to travel. Many are compelled to travel due to family pressures and the like. It is OK to ‘skip a year’ if you are overwhelmed and feel you need a break.
- Get to bed. Sleep cycles are impacted enough going into winter with shorter days and longer nights. Be mindful of sleep routines as they have a large impact on buffering chronic stress responses and clearing your brain of toxins.
- Stick to your regular eating habits. If they are healthy ones, that is. It is OK to ‘sample the goods’ around the holidays, but overdoing it will be sure to weaken your immune system and allow stress to harm your brain and body.
- Move your body. Exercise should be a regular part of your daily routine, especially around the holidays. It minimizes the effects of stress and burns the excess calories you will likely indulge in.
- Meditate. Quiet time away from the distractions of the holidays to self-reflect and calm your mind will reduce stress levels.
- Turn off the tube. TV usage skyrockets during the holidays for many, leading to less physical activity and social disconnection.
- Play games, read, tell stories. All activities that will engage your mind and connect you to others around you during the holiday season.
- Connect socially. One of the secrets to stress reduction. Social connection produced hormones that reduce stress. If you have little or no family and friends, volunteer opportunities abound.
There is help
For those experiencing undue stress during the holiday season (or any season) leading to withdrawn, erratic, or dangerous behavior, increased substance use, trouble at work, etc. – there is help! Brain Training such as neurofeedback and meditation are highly effective options for dealing with chronic stress outside of acute or emergency situations. In critical situations, you should call national helplines for immediate support:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1.800.273.8255
National Substance Abuse Hotline: 1.800.622.HELP (4357)