Lifestyle

7 Tips for Reducing Stress in Your Life Before the End of the Year

It’s that time of year. We’ve turned the clocks back, and it’s getting dark earlier and earlier. If you struggle with seasonal depression, your stress level could be on the rise. It can be distracting and make it hard to get important things accomplished during the day.

There’s good news, though. Even if your stress level goes up because the sun goes down earlier, you can get some relief. Give these seven tips a try. You may find yourself feeling lighter before the end of the year.

1. Get Control of Your Money

Sure, you should watch what you spend and try to put 10 percent of your paycheck away into savings. There’s one more thing you can do, though, to hold on to your hard-earned cash. Switch to mobile banking.

Using debit cards with no minimum balance and round-up savings features means your bank account will be healthier for the holidays. Feathering your nest with more dollars can keep your stress at bay. Using an app also means you can wave goodbye to the traffic frustrations you’d face driving to the bank.

2. Start Giggling

You’ve heard laughter is the best medicine. Well, it can’t solve all your health problems, but it can definitely lighten your mood. Those belly laughs and chuckles lower your level of cortisol, the stress hormone. Laughing can also help relax your muscles for nearly an hour – talk about a fun, free massage!

Enjoying some giggles drives down your blood pressure and prompts you to release antibodies that fight stress. You don’t need a ticket to the comedy club to get the benefits, either. Enjoy some laughs with your friends and family, or you can try laughter yoga.

3. Get Into Creator Mode

Remember as a kid how much fun you had being an artist? Maybe you played with modeling clay, fingerpaints, or crayons. It didn’t really matter, did it? When you let your creative juices flow, you feel free and relaxed. You can recapture that feeling now.

Let your mind wander, and you can funnel a lot of your stress and frustration into fueling your imagination. In fact, adult coloring books are a growing trend that can help you decompress. Creating multicolored lions, hot air balloons, or rain forests can go a long way toward relieving your stress and anxiety.

4. Raise Your Heart Rate

Physical activity and exercise are important at any time of the year. It’s even more vital to sweat it out when you’re struggling with seasonal depression and rising stress levels. The bigger your endorphin boost, the better your mood.

If the weather cooperates, try to get outside for a run or walk. Soaking up vitamin D from the sun can make your stress fade away. Even if you can’t get outside to enjoy the fresh air, that’s OK. Make time for the treadmill or a gym session.

When it comes to combating your stress, working out pulls double-duty. Exercise also helps you sleep, and when you snooze, your cortisol levels drop, too. It’s a win-win!

5. Relax Your Body

Kicking back on the couch does sound great, but we’re talking about progressive muscle relaxation. It’s a relaxation technique where you concentrate on resting your muscles one group at a time. Taking several minutes at the end of the day to focus on releasing tension can help your stress melt away. When your body is more relaxed, you can be in a better mental space.

First, take several deep breaths. Start at your forehead and alternately tighten and relax all your muscle groups. Over time, you’ll be able to pinpoint which muscles carry the most stress so you can concentrate on them first.

6. Stay Social

When it gets dark so early, it’s easy to curl up in front of the TV and fall asleep. If you have seasonal depression, however, that can lead to isolation-related stress. One of the best ways to beat back this anxiety is to stay social. Trade in social media for real-life interactions, and you’ll see your stress level drop.

You don’t have to hit happy hours or late-night parties. Frankly, that can steal your sleep, making you even more stressed out. Instead, make coffee dates with friends or play a tag football game outside. Meet up with a family member for dinner or a walk. Staying engaged keeps you emotionally connected so you can focus on positive activities.

7. Don’t Forget Yourself

Hanging out can be fun, but sometimes the best release valve for stress is to concentrate on yourself. It’s absolutely OK to take a step back and claim some “me time.” If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it could be your body’s way of asking for a break.

Listen to your inner voice. Rather than forcing yourself to do something you’re just not into, pick up that book you’ve been wanting to read. Put on your favorite music and relax with a glass of wine. Take a stroll through your neighborhood. The important thing to remember is to chill out, take deep breaths, and unwind.

The end of the year can be stressful for a whole handful of reasons. Holidays and family gatherings can be fun, but filled with tension. When you add seasonal depression into the mix, your anxiety can skyrocket. Give these stress-busters a shot, and you could be in a peaceful state of mind before the end of the year.

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