No matter how joyful a time of year it may be, holiday stress always manages to rear its ugly head. Isn’t it supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year?

It can be hard to deal when your stress peaks around the holidays. That’s why it’s critical to prevent holiday stress before it begins and know how to act when you feel your stress levels rising.

‘Tis the season to be jolly—not stressed out! Read on for tips on how to prevent holiday stress.

1. Set your intention.

Try as you might, you’re bound to have at least one or two stressful moments during the holidays. However, if you make a conscious decision not to allow yourself to be affected by stress, you essentially prime your brain for more positive experiences. Make a vow to enjoy the holidays. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about?

2. Stick with your routine.

Don’t slather on more holiday than you can handle. To prevent holiday stress, treat your schedule as you would during any other non-holiday time of year. That means sticking to your regularly scheduled gym time, book club meetings, or anything else you do on a routine basis.

3. Say no to things.

Between all the shopping, cooking, and events, it’s easy to overcommit yourself during the holiday. Spread yourself too thin, and you could be setting yourself up for stress, not success. Remember that it’s OK to say no. You don’t need to get presents for every person you know, contribute a dish to every gathering, or attend every party.

4. Forget perfection.

It may be easier said than done, but try your best not to obsess over perfection. It’s OK if your house is a little messy or if dinner comes out a few minutes late. The holidays are about enjoying the people in your life, so try not to sweat the small stuff. Your loved ones will thank you for it!

5. Go outside.

Do you ever notice that you feel different after turning the clocks back? It’s not your imagination. Spending more time indoors makes it even more important to monitor our exposure to sunlight.

Sunlight triggers the release of the brain chemical serotonin, a mood booster. During the winter, less time spent in the sun can cause serotonin levels to dip. Low serotonin levels are associated with a greater risk of major depression with seasonal pattern, also known as seasonal affective disorder.

The World Health Organization recommends getting at least five to 15 minutes of sun exposure on your face, arms, and hands two to three times a week to really soak up the benefits. Don’t forget to wear sunscreen, even in the winter!

6. Get rid of your gadgets.

We live in a world where we’re always plugged in. The constant pinging and buzzing of phone notifications keep us on edge, which could be sapping your energy and stressing you out more than you realize. This year, make it a “Silent Night” by silencing your gadgets and turning off notifications. That way, you can be present and really focus on being with your friends and family.

7. Try acupressure.

Acupressure is a form of traditional Chinese medicine said to relieve muscle tension, improve circulation, and regulate bodily energy by steadily applying pressure to certain parts of the body.

Next time you’re feeling stressed, pinch the fleshy spot between your index finger and thumb for 30 seconds. It’s believed that applying pressure to this part of the body can reduce stress and tension in your upper body.

8. Get out of the house.

Do your family gatherings have a way of becoming dysfunctional? Consider moving big family meals or other events to a restaurant. Not only is it less work for you, but being in a public setting discourages boisterous behavior.

9. Listen to music.

Turns out something many of us already do in times of stress really can help relax the mind and body. Next time you’re cooking up a storm or about to brave the crowds at the local mall, turn on some tunes to de-stress. Numerous studies have found that listening to music can reduce psychological stress and promote healing. Try singing along to really release some tension!

10. Exercise.

It seems like exercise falls to the wayside during holidays. When you’ve got a jam-packed schedule and you’re feeling super stressed, exercise might be the last thing you feel like doing. However, the psychological benefits of exercise cannot be overstated.

Aerobic exercise, specifically, reduces stress hormone levels and stimulates the production of endorphins, the chemicals in the brain that serve as the body’s natural painkillers and mood boosters. Exercise also offers an opportunity to either escape the stressors of everyday life by getting some much-needed alone time or finding comfort in community by exercising with other people.

11. Practice gratitude.

The holidays are a great time to express gratitude for all the blessings in our lives. Instead of chasing something new in the hopes that it brings you happiness, consciously express your appreciation for what you already have.

Countless psychology studies have found a correlation between gratitude and greater happiness. Cultivating gratitude is as easy as saying three things you’re grateful for every morning when you wake up, setting a daily reminder on your phone to say thanks, or writing in a gratitude journal.

12. Have fun!

Remember what the holidays were like when you were a kid? What’s holding you back from experiencing the holidays that way again? Relish time with your children and younger family members, and take delight in their happiness. Sing, dance, and have fun, and you’ll open your head and heart to pure joy.

Cheers to a Stress-Free Holiday Season—and Insurance!

The holidays shouldn’t stress you out, and neither should your insurance. ABC Insurance Agencies has been helping drivers in Louisiana and Texas make A Better Choice for car insurance by providing them with coverage that suits their lifestyle and budget.

Make sure you’re covered—and not paying more than you should!—with ABC. For a free car insurance quote, call 1-800-708-0123, click, or talk to a friendly ABC Insurance Agent near you today!

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