As we enter the holiday season, many of us are experiencing– and even becoming overwhelmed– with stress. We feel the pressure of travel restrictions, the dilemmas of navigating decisions about gatherings, the anticipation of things being different, the grief of loss, and the general fatigue of 2020 thus far. Yes, the holidays are stressful every year. But this year the stress is compounded and complex. And so many of us are feeling it.
And yet, we are not powerless to the power of stress. There are things we can proactively do to loosen the it’s grip. Here are three simple activities you can do to reduce anxiety.
1. Breathe Deeply
Breathing deeply might seem simple, but it actually does work to reduce stress. There’s lots of science behind taking a deep breath to calm down.
To get started, try sitting or lying down with one hand on your stomach and one hand on your chest. As you breathe, try to focus on the air filling your abdomen area. As you inhale through your nose, your abdomen inflates like a balloon. As you exhale slowly through your mouth, you can feel your abdomen deflating. Try doing this for 5-10 minutes twice a day. Prayer can be incorporated into this exercise to further deepen it.
Exercise has been shown to reduce stress. In fact, Mayo Clinic suggests that almost anything we choose to do for exercise can be a stress reducer.* So feel free to pick a favorite and establish a consistent rhythm. Try finding a way to exercise at least three times per week.
3. Talk to Someone
Often, connecting with someone can have a calming effect. There’s power when you sense that someone is with you, even if they’re not physically present. Whether it is talking to a friend or family member, turning to God in prayer, or speaking with a counselor, it is important to connect with others. It’s good to be reminded: you are not alone.
These activities don’t offer an instant cure for all anxiety. But they can reduce it. And the beauty is, we can get started with any of them today. With holiday stress all around us, we can experience a greater level of calm.