Though the holidays are filled with joy and family, they can also be a very stressful time. Work schedules are jumbled, exercise routines are compromised and often, travel is involved. We spoke to Dr. Simon Rego, director of Psychology Training at Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, to get some tips on managing stress during the holiday season—and we rounded up some apps for additional help.
Know (and Anticipate) Your Triggers
Next time you are feeling stressed, it's good to take a second to notice what triggered it.
"People tend to have specific triggers that recur in their lives (rent due at the beginning of each month, family visits over the holidays, etc.)," explains Dr. Rego. "So if you can raise your awareness of when you're most vulnerable, you can make a plan—in advance—on how you can deal with the trigger."
In the case of the holidays, this may mean that time-crunches stress you out. In that case, allot more time for cooking so you don't feel rushed between recipes.
Face Your Fears and Take Productive Action
Dr. Rego points out once you solve a problem, you eliminate it as a source of stress.
"Feeling stressed can sometimes lead people to procrastinate and/or avoid confronting the source of their stress. Often, by dealing with problems head on and quickly, they are much more manageable than we initially imagined."
This may take extra planning or reflecting on your part before the holidays, but by preparing yourself for the stressors you will encounter, you will have a plan on how to react when they arise.
Find the Challenge Instead of the Threat in UncertaintyA big part of facing your stress head-on involves being mindful and changing your thought process when stress begins to occur.
"Many people who experience stress tend to be inclined to see all the things that could go wrong in situations that they are uncertain about," reveals Dr. Rego. "Switching your thoughts to find the opportunity or challenge in the situation instead can lead you to feel less stressed and be more willing to take productive action."
Almost like putting on a pair of glasses, you can train yourself to see stressors in a new way and take action to calm yourself during the situation.
A huge part of reducing stress involves relaxation, which may take some practice.
"Relaxation and stress are opposite emotions," shares Dr. Rego. "If you can calm the body through relaxation, diaphragmatic breathing, meditation, exercise, etc., you can bring down the level of stress you feel."
Yoga classes are a great way to learn breathing exercises and practice your technique.
Need more guidance? There's an app for that.
The Mindfulness App: If you're looking for guided meditations, this app has options of all lengths, allowing you to meditate on a short break from work. You can also design your own silent meditation program.
Headspace: This app takes meditation to the next level, with content for every facet of your life including relationships, stress and more. In addition, the app lets you connect with your friends and encourage each other as you expand your mindfulness practice.
Conversation Starters: This app by entrepreneur, author and speaker Danielle LaPorte is a great alternative for those who are looking to have a guided conversation. With 134 questions, the app can help you learn more about yourself, your desires and fears.
Stay in shape in a fitness class.