The holidays always have a way of bringing out the warm and fuzzies — and the stress. Between all the shopping, parties, and family time, it’s no wonder stress builds during this time of year. But you don’t have to feel like a Scrooge this holiday season. Although the holidays can be a challenging time, there are ways to reduce stress and anxiety so you can enjoy what really matters. It all starts with mindfulness. Mindfulness is defined in many ways, but it boils down to being in the present moment. Follow these tips for a merrier, more mindful holiday season.

1. Stick to your schedule.

Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Find balance by sticking to your schedule as you would any other time of year. That means going to the gym, walking your dog, keeping your appointments, and anything else that you do on a regular basis.

2. Say no.

Remember that it’s okay to say no. Don’t feel obligated to go to every party, get gifts for every person on your list, or invite your out-of-town friends to stay with you if you know it’s going to stress you out. It’s easy to overcommit yourself during this time of year, so don’t be afraid to say no and keep your stress in check.

3. Respond, don’t react.

You’re bound to have a stressful moment or two over the coming weeks. Next time stress strikes, remember to respond, not react.

Reactions are instant. When you react to something, you do and say without thinking or considering the consequences. You simply act.

A response is more thoughtful. When you respond to something, you consider the potential outcomes, weigh the pros and cons, and think about the best way to proceed for yourself and others in the situation.

Next time you’re feeling bothered, practice mindfulness by pausing and observing your feelings first. That might mean taking a few deep breaths or a few days before you respond.

4. Forget about perfection.

You may want everything to be just so, but know that it’s fine if your apartment is a little messy, you forget to bring a gift to your company’s white elephant gift exchange, or the present you ordered online for your nephew won’t arrive until after the holidays. When you set impossible expectations for yourself, you lose sight of what really matters during this time of year: being present and enjoying the people in your life.

5. Set a budget.

The holidays and spending go hand in hand. According to a Gallup poll, American consumers expect to spend an average of $942 on Christmas gifts in 2019, up from $885 at the same time in 2018. That’s a lot of money.

If spending money stresses you out, make sure you head into the holiday season with an understanding of your finances. Then, set a realistic budget for gifts and stick to it. Your holiday gift spending shouldn’t affect your ability to make rent or keep the lights on, but it shouldn’t result in high-interest (i.e., expensive) credit card debt either.

Swiping a credit card is so easy, but it can take years to pay off the balance. Don’t feel pressured into spending more money than you have. If it helps, talk with your friends and family, and agree on the maximum amount you’re willing to spend.

6. Exercise.

When you’ve got a jam-packed schedule, exercise is usually the first thing to go. However, during such a hectic time of year, it’s one of the best things you can do to improve your mood and stave off stress.

Aerobic exercise, in particular, stimulates the production of endorphins, the brain chemicals that are the body’s natural painkillers. This holiday season, prioritize movement. You’ll boost your mood and reduce feelings of anxiety and stress—who doesn’t want that?

Try incorporating any of these aerobic activities into your schedule for at least 30 minutes at a time a few times a week:

  • Walking
  • Jogging
  • Hiking
  • Swimming
  • Cycling/spinning
  • Kickboxing
  • Playing sports

7. Unplug.

We live in a world where we’re constantly plugged in, and the never-ending pinging, dinging, and buzzing of your phone could have you more on edge than you realize. This year, vow to distance yourself from your devices so you can focus on being with your friends and family.

8. Spend time outside.

Now that we’ve turned the clocks back and temperatures are dipping, we’re spending more time indoors, and it’s even more important for us to prioritize exposure to sunlight.

Sunlight triggers the release of serotonin, or the happy hormone. Serotonin levels tend to dip during the winter, which can indicate an increased risk of major depression with seasonal pattern, otherwise known as seasonal affective disorder.

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

9. Practice gratitude.

The holidays are an especially good time to give thanks for the many blessings in our lives. Express gratitude and appreciation for what you already have, like your health, your friends, or the bed you sleep in.

Countless psychology studies have identified a link between gratitude and greater happiness, so make gratitude a part of your routine. Name three things you’re grateful for each morning when you wake up, set a daily reminder on your phone to say “thank you,” or write in a gratitude journal.

10. Remember to have fun!

Remember how great the holidays were when you were a kid? Who says you can’t have that much fun again? If possible, spend time with kids and younger family members this holiday season and take delight in their happiness. Play, have fun, and be silly, and you’ll open your heart to pure joy. That’s what the holidays are all about!

Have a Merry, Mindful Holiday!

The holidays shouldn’t stress you out, and neither should your health insurance. At Vera Health, we’re rethinking health insurance by allowing our customers to personalize their plans and pay for the coverage they need, not the coverage they don’t. Chat with us at 888-499-1187, or visit us online any time to learn more about affordable short-term health insurance options for you or your family. Here’s to a happy holiday!

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Vera Health markets short term medical insurance products underwritten by National Health Insurance Company, Integon Indemnity Corporation, and Integon National Insurance Company.

Vera Health markets short term medical insurance products underwritten by National Health Insurance Company, Integon Indemnity Corporation, and Integon National Insurance Company.