The winter season is a time for people to visit with friends and family and enjoy winter festivities. Though this time of year is filled with joy and excitement, it can also be overwhelming and stressful. Holiday anxieties are common and may impact your ability to enjoy the cheer of the season. To help you cope with the added stresses this year, the health experts at Envolve, an integrated healthcare solutions company, have put together five imaginative ways to reduce seasonal stress.
1. Cook Cleverly. Culinary feats can be a form of art on their own. In fact, a study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology found that small creative tasks like cooking or baking can help improve your mood. Break out a new recipe and pair seasonal flavors to create something unique. Normally serve hot cocoa or egg nog? Try serving a simple, hot cinnamon tea with cinnamon bark, honey, orange zest, and vanilla extract. Looking for a unique side dish? Try adding dried cranberries and toasted walnuts to your favorite vinegar-based coleslaw recipe to add some seasonal flare to this traditional dish.
2. Wrap Willingly. While gift wrapping can seem mundane, there are a few easy ways to bundle holiday packages in something more exciting than typical store bought wrapping paper. Looking to go greener? Try wrapping presents in newspaper, brown paper grocery bags, or old maps. You can spruce up plain paper with a rubber stamp and ink or colorful, patterned duct tape. You can also wrap gifts in leftover fabric swatches for a crafty approach. Another way to get inventive is to incorporate the packaging into the gift – use a bucket, basket, or reusable bag or purse instead of disposable gift paper.
3. Give Gladly. Volunteering can lower stress and help you feel a sense of purpose and responsibility. Helping others can help you find common interests and build a support system with fellow volunteers, which can boost your mood and decrease feelings of depression or anger. Giving back your time and talents can help you spread some joy this season and feel a true sense of accomplishment.
4. Produce Presents. Gifts that are handmade are often seen as extra special and can help you reduce stress through artistic expression. Rather than gifting the latest gadget, try creating something one-of-a-kind. A cozy hand-knit sweater, hat, or scarf can help the recipient stay warm on cold winter days. A painted mug or picture frame can help cheer up someone’s home. Having trouble coming up with inventive ideas? Head to your local arts and crafts store for some inspiration.
5. Take Time-Outs. Still feeling overwhelmed by your holiday commitments? Take a break from preparations for some well-deserved me-time. Curl up with a good book next to a cozy fire or bundle up for a short nature walk with you family. Exercise, nature, and music have all been shown to reduce anxiety. Not sure how to find the time to relax? Make an appointment with yourself to dedicate some small moments to “me time.” By adding this to your calendar and making a time commitment, you’re more likely to follow through.
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