This article was previously published on Live, Do, Grow.com by Aventura Ambassador Elena Sonnino.
To say that stress can impact our daily lives would be a gross understatement. While stress is a natural condition – too much stress raises our cortisol levels (primary stress hormone) and causes a domino effect in the body from our immune systems to the digestive system to our sleep cycle and metabolism.
At the holidays, stressors seem to be everywhere. Responsibility.org conducted a national survey on parents, the holidays and stress and found that Americans, especially parents with kids ages 18 and younger, report higher levels of stress during the holiday season. Not surprising right?
What causes stress? According to the survey:
- 58% reported not having enough time
- 56% reported finances/money
- 48% reported family
- 25% reported holiday activities/parties
- 10% indicated everything about the holidays is stressful
Do something that makes you happy. For me that means going for a run. Long or short, outside or on the treadmill – I almost always feel better after a run.
Learn to meditate. Yes, I am serious. Although I have never been a believer in meditation – after six weeks of using the Headspace app that teaches you to focus your mind – I am a meditation convert.
Wear clothes that make you feel GREAT. One year ago, I went to a holiday party after spending an hour (maybe more) in my closet crying because nothing fit me. This year – I am a different version of me. Granted, I have worked hard to reach the point where I feel strong and healthy – but when it came to going to the same holiday party – I happily plucked my Dusty Lavender – Cassie Dress by Aventura Clothing, from my closet and felt incredible – instead of insecure.
Plan a trip. Alright, I get it. For some people – the idea of planning a trip can induce stress. But instead of getting bogged down in the details, take this time to formulate what your ideal trip might look like. Use this time to dream, to research and to collect photographs on a bucket list travel board on Pinterest.
Find ways for daily detoxification. Detoxification is any process that removes “bad” substances from our bodies. Some people associate cleanses or juicing with detoxification but the truth is that it does not have to be that difficult. Drinking water and sweating are fabulous ways to detox each day. (As a bonus – detoxing makes it easier to lose weight!). One of my favorite detox tools is a local infrared sauna where a 45-minute session offers a deeper sweat than a workout. Even yoga and massage help in detoxification!
Plan a game night with friends or family. Yes, I know…we are all inundated with holiday parties. I just finished planning and organizing one of my own for my synagogue community – given that planning social events does not play into using my strengths – was a big cause of all things stress for me. (I used my meditation app A LOT in the days leading up to the event).
What I realized during the evening (other than of course the importance of deciding who will be driving home and making sure to drink plenty of water before, during and after the event as a way to balance any alcohol intake) – was that big or small, what makes a holiday event memorable – is the time to get together with people you care about. So instead of a formal gathering, why not plan a “come in your yoga pants” style afternoon or evening where kids and adults can play games, chat and nosh on something healthy that you will enjoy? Enjoy an excellent bottle of wine, champagne or even your favorite alcohol – modeling healthy and responsible (adult) drinking as part of a celebration (without it being the focus).
Funny story: Remember the party that I organized (that caused me a “bit” of stress)? It was a vodka and latke themed evening – which of course meant preparing several different types of vodka to taste and latkes to eat. My daughter noticed that I had three bottles of vodka on our counter to take the to the party and remarked “You are going to drink vodka? That is bad.”
Knowing that this might lead to an interesting conversation (and possibly a teachable moment) I asked “What makes you think that?”
Her response was simply “Vodka makes people drunk.”
Rather than interrogating her on where or how she learned that – I cut to the chase. I explained to her that although I agree that drinking a lot of vodka could make someone drunk, I had made sure that there would be a lot of food and water at our party so that people could drink responsibly. I also shared how we as a couple had decided which of us would be driving home (even though we knew that neither my husband or I would push the limits on too much vodka) just to make sure we were being safe. Content with my response and information – she went back to whatever she was doing (and I took mental note that I need to inquire about where she learned that vodka made people drunk).
The point is….our children watch us. They watch us when we get stressed. They watch us celebrate. They watch us react. Whether we are finding ways to cope with stress or modeling healthy and responsible behaviors – finding our everyday wellness impacts not just us as individuals – but our children and families.
Infographics courtesy of Responsibility.org