Baby, Take Your Stress Off!

… It’s the happ- happiest season of all!

These lyrics to the classic Christmas song by Emmy award winning performer Andy Williams could lead one to believe that the holidays are the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. However, studies show this season is among the most stressful time of the year for many Americans and especially for women.

A survey by the American Psychological Association found that more women than men feel stressed at Christmas — and have a harder time relaxing and enjoying the season. According to a Washington Post article, women find themselves trying to meet everyday obligations, finish year-end projects and set goals for the next year, as well as fit in a plethora of concerts and other holiday activities into an already jam-packed schedule.

Many moms work overtime to create magical Christmas memories for their families by decorating children’s rooms with miniature Christmas trees to making homemade Christmas ornaments and DIY Christmas gifts plus baking Christmas cookies.

“We feel stress because we can’t slow down,” says Certified Speaking Professional and author Vicki Hitzges, who led a session entitled “Baby, Take Off Your Stress,” last Thursday during the 4th Annual Executive Women in Agriculture (#EWA14) in Chicago. I found myself nodding in agreement with many of Hitzges’ nuggets of truth and laughing at some of the (admittedly) crazy things I do that add more stress to this season of peace and goodwill.

The trick is not learning ways to reduce stress, says Hitzges. The trick is following is these simple tips:

  1. 13883201_mExercise. Research shows that as little as a 5-minute walk can elevate your body’s level of endorphins, which lead to positive feelings. The higher your level of endorphins, the greater your sense of calm and well-being. We’ve all heard the reports that we should walk 20 to 30 minutes a day, but honestly, 5 minutes is better than nothing! It can help boost your energy levels throughout the day.
  2. Talk it OutTaking a problem through can help to put it in to perspective and throw a new, objective view on it. You might want to speak to a good friend, a partner or a family member. Perhaps you would prefer to speak to a colleague or manager at work. You could even look in to talking to your doctor or a trained therapist. No matter how alone you may feel, remember there is always someone there for you.
  3. Take a Break. Just as electronics sometimes freeze, so can your brain! To reboot your system, step away from the problem momentarily. Get some fresh air. Walk around a bit or climb the stairs in your home or office building. Chat briefly with a friend.
  4. Laugh and/or Cry. There’s good reason people say laughter is the best medicine. Laughter is like a mini workout as it stretches muscles throughout our face and body. Our pulse and blood pressure go up, plus we breathe faster. Sometimes we laugh until we cry, and other times all we can do is cry! Tears can provide a release for stress, fear, anxiety and grief.
  5. Map It. Walking away from a problem doesn’t solve anything, Hitzges reminds, but working through problems can provide a sense of calm. Implementing an action plan helps put you in control of making the situation better.

Chances are, the five tips above aren’t anything you didn’t already know. Hitzges offers the following unique ideas:

  • 759124_mPop a bubble. A survey conducted by Kelton Research reveals that just over one minute of popping Bubble Wrap® provides stress relief equivalent to a 33 minute massage. If you find yourself with a “need to pop” but don’t have any shipping wrap, download the BubbleFREE App for Apple or the Bubble Pop Fun! Android App.
  • Work wonders with warm water. Bathe in water that’s 100-101 degrees. Warm (not hot) water provides your entire body with a level of relaxation that reduces some anxiety symptoms and can also relieve physical aches and pain.
  • Melt away stress with ice cold water. Someresearchers believe drinking extra water can help 18224138_mrelieve some anxiety symptoms. Plus, drinking cold water burns calories because your body temperature goes down when you drink it. You burn 8 calories for every 8 ounces of ice cold water you drink. Drink 8 cups per day and burn 64 calories. Burn 448 calories in one week just by sitting on the couch, sipping ice cold water!

By implementing some of these tried and true stress-relieving tips, may you find yourself singing a new tune this holiday season!  … With kids jingle belling and everyone telling you “Be of good cheer …
… It’s the happ- happiest season of all!