10 Ways to De-Stress During the Holidays

Check out our no-fail stress-busters for the holiday season.

By Diana Vilibert

November 12, 2004 6:13 PM
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Katja Govorushchenko
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Vent

All that holiday cheer coupled with the non-stop Christmas music on the radio might make you want to scream - so go ahead and scream. Grab your best friend and a cup of coffee and have a bitch-session while you do your last-minute shopping. Chances are, you're not the only one that feels like you're going to crack if you have to string one more Christmas light.

Get Busy

A study in Scotland found that sex can lower stress, blood pressure, and anxiety - and that those benefits can linger for days. Take a break from baking snowman-shaped sugar cookies and grab your sweetie for a quickie, or set your alarm a little early to sneak in some nookie before your day gets going.

Just Say No

Your cousins want to stay with you in your one-bedroom apartment the week before Christmas, and they're bringing their newborn triplets? "No." Your mother's friend needs a ride to the airport at 2 AM? "No." Set boundaries and stick to them. Feeling a little stressed and having extra responsibilities during the holidays is normal, but don't let yourself be the go-to person for everything that no one else wants to do.
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Be Selfish

Schedule some me-time to do what you love to do, even if you only have a few minutes to fit it in. Cut your daily half-hour jog into two 15-minute sessions. Practice a few yoga poses for 10 minutes. Whatever it is, make sure you have some interrupted time every day to do something just for yourself - it'll give you a much needed break and mood boost before you get back to your to-do list.
Courtesy of LightTherapy.com
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Light Up

No, don't reach for the cigarettes - get your hands on a happy light to fight the winter blues. Your body's clock can be negatively affected by the lack of natural sunlight during winter months, causing everything from sleep problems and lowered mood to carb cravings and weight gain! Light therapy can combat these issues by shifting your sleep rhythms back to their normal patterns. We recommend Philips' goLITE BLU with Advanced Bluewave technology that allows your body to respond to this light two times faster than white light. Use it for 15 minutes each day and you'll "see" the benefits in about a week. Check out LightTherapy.com for more information.

Clean Up

Eliminate your mental clutter by organizing the physical clutter. Take half an hour to go through your home and pick up anything off the floor, throw out garbage, and organize any messes on your desk. Don't have the time to do a big cleanup? Focus on your bedroom - it'll be a lot easier to get a good night's sleep if the area around your bed isn't covered in wrapping paper and boxes of holiday decorations from the past decade.

Schedule Some Playtime

Head over to Marie Claire's Games headquarters and relax with a game of backgammon, mahjongg, or solitaire. Brain feeling fried? Reboot with sudoku or a crossword puzzle.
Diane Diederich
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Power Nap

You may not have the time for a lazy Sunday morning lounging in bed, but a short power nap in the middle of the day will lower your stress hormone levels enough to make visiting your in-laws bearable. Skip the snooze button in the morning - studies have shown that a 20-minute nap in the middle of the day provides more rest than staying in bed an extra 20 minutes in the morning. And don't forget to close the blinds and shut off your cell phone for minimal distractions - it's not a nap if you've still got one hand typing on your Blackberry
Ben Goldstein
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Stretch

Even if you can't make your 7 AM yoga class, you can still take a few minutes to get a good stretch in. Take a breather from decorating the tree and writing holiday cards with these easy and quick relaxation exercises from fitness expert Stefan Aschan, founder of the Strength 123 program:
Breathing Bend: While inhaling, bend your legs, touching your fingers to your toes. While standing up slowly, exhale and bring hands in front and above you, continuing the movement to create a large circle with arms ending at your side.
Sky Extension: Begin with hands and arms relaxed, hanging next to your hips. Inhale and hold for a count. When you exhale, bring your hands to the ceilings and extent towards the back until a stretch is felt in the stomach. Repeat, focusing on your breathing.

Get a Massage

Relaxing with a rubdown doesn't have to mean spending precious holiday-shopping hours at the spa. Take a break while you're at the mall with a quick 10-minute neck rub at one of the massage stations. Don't have the cash to spare? Duck into a Brookstone and plant yourself in one of their massage chairs for a few minutes of downtime.
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