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Take 5: How to slow down and enjoy the holidays

This isn’t a typical holiday season. COVID-19 is still a reality in our community and stress levels are still high for many. Add the typical holiday concerns of gifts and food, and you might already be feeling exhausted.

We asked Kimberlie Warren, PhD, Director of Diversity and Provider Well-Being at Beacon, to “Take 5” and offer five ways you can feel more relaxed and stress-free this holiday season.

  • Appreciate what you have. Taking time to contemplate what you’re grateful for improves your mood by reducing cortisol, the stress hormone.
  • Temporarily disconnect from technology. Choose blocks of time to go offline. These refreshing breaks reduce stress by putting a mental recharge into your schedule.
  • Stay positive and reframe negative thinking. You can’t control your circumstances, but you can control how you respond to them. So before you spend too much time dwelling on something, take a minute to put the situation in perspective.
  • Limit caffeine intake. Drinking caffeine triggers the release of adrenaline and the ‘fight or flight’ response, a survival mechanism that forces you to stand up and fight or run for the hills when faced with a threat. The stress that caffeine creates is far from sporadic. Caffeine’s long half-life ensures that it takes its sweet time working its way out of your body.
  • Practice deep breathing. When you’re feeling stressed, put away all distractions, and just sit in a chair and breathe. The goal is to spend the entire time focused only on your breathing, which will prevent your mind from wandering. The more you practice, the easier and more natural the action becomes.

    Bonus tip: Get adequate sleep. Sleep deprivation alone raises stress hormone levels. With the right amount and type of sleep, your brain recharges so that you wake up alert and clear-headed.
About Heidi Prescott-Wieneke