The holidays tend to bring not just parties and presents and shopping, but usually an extra large-sized dose of stress for moms and dads as well. It may seem impossible to catch a breath, much less relax this time of year, but giving yourself time to deal with stress is essential if you want to get any sort of enjoyment out of the holidays. It's also essential for maintaining your health, your weight and your sanity.
And you know what can help you manage stress? Exercise! Honestly, don’t roll your eyes! I swear it’s true, whether you’re willing to believe it or not.
Break a sweat this holiday season and try following these five simple guidelines for helping to reduce your stress:
Try not to skip your workouts – It's tempting to ditch your workouts as your days fill up with holiday preparations, parties and errands, but now more than ever, you need to stay active. Getting in some exercise is one of the best ways to burn off tension, get time to yourself, and boost your energy and mood. Keep things simple – workout at home or plan short workouts at the gym that don't require much time or equipment. And if you can, give yourself some extra time to lounge in the sauna or steam room (or your own tub or shower if you workout at home). Your sanity will thank you later for the extra five minutes of peace and quiet.
Lift weights – We often skip strength training in favor of cardio when time gets tight, but you need to keep lifting weights. Not only will it keep your metabolism going, it will help you maintain your muscle mass and your strength. Strength is crucial during the holidays as you deal with everything from putting up trees and lights to lugging shopping bags all over creation.
Go for a run or walk – You may think you get enough cardio running around the mall, but setting aside specific time to take a walk or run can increase feel-good hormones, reduce stress and boost your mood in just five minutes. And you don’t need a gym membership to do it so you don’t have any excuses – strap on your sneakers and get outside for at least 15-20 minutes. Bonus: When you need a break from the family, it's a great excuse to get out for a bit and get a moment to yourself
Meditate…or at least stretch quietly – If gym workouts or more strenuous routines are out of reach, try setting aside 5 to 10 minutes in the morning or at night for a gentle mind/body workout. Yoga is great for flexibility, but it's also a great way to wake up on a cold morning or unwind after a long day. Never tried yoga? Spend the time slowly stretching instead – just be sure to turn off any outside distractions like the TV and dim the lights, so that you have some time to just let your mind relax while you stretch your muscles.
Ease up on yourself – If trying to do everything is making you crazy, don't be afraid to scale back on your workouts. If you have trouble sticking with your usual routine this time of year, come up with a new one. Forget the rules, lower your standards and do whatever you need to do to keep moving. Even a few days off from exercise won't hurt your fitness level, as long as you make a plan to get back on track right away.
Dalplex, Dalhousie University's main fitness and recreation facility, has been proudly serving the community for over 30 years, offering a wide variety of fitness, wellness and recreation programs and classes for adults, children, youth and seniors. Visit their website or follow them on facebook