The holiday season can be a joyful time of festive celebrations, but it can also be the most stressful time of the year. When stress levels rise, so do cortisol levels. The adrenal glands produce this hormone which helps to regulate your blood pressure and your immune system during times of increased stress. When your body faces chronic levels of stress, it can cause a host of unwanted issues such as sleep problems, a sluggish immune system, unstable blood sugar levels and weight gain (specifically in the abdominal region).
The key to controlling cortisol levels is to reduce stress levels. Here are seven ways to lower your stress now that the busy holiday season is behind you.
- Meditate – Meditation is a great way to put things into perspective. Take some time to quietly sit, breathe deeply and let your body relax and unwind.
- Listen to music – Music has a soothing effect on the brain. Similar to meditation, music allows you to focus your energies on something other than your current stressors.
- Sleep – When you are feeling particularly stressed, take a nap, or go to bed early. In addition to giving your body a break, getting sleep can give you clarity and help you come up with solutions to the things that are causing your stress.
- Talk to a friend – Take a break and laugh (or cry) with a friend. Laugher is a great way to reduce your stress and change your outlook. Similarly, a good cry is sometimes just the release you need to create a sense of calm.
- Get massage – A good massage can help to remove the physical issues that are causing your discomfort. It also helps to increase the production of the “feel good” hormones dopamine and serotonin.
- Prayer – Having a connection to a “higher power” can give you a greater sense of purpose and a guide in times of struggle.
- Seek help – Sometimes stress can be so overwhelming you don’t feel like you have a way out. Seeking the help of a professional is an excellent way to put your stress in perspective while gaining important coping tools.