Christmas is a time for joy, peace and good will towards all men, right? Or does rushing for last minute presents, engaging in family fights and over-eating sound more familiar?
From Halloween, Thanksgiving to Christmas, fall and winter is a busy time of planning, spending and consuming.
According to a Statista survey, the U.S. retail industry generates over three trillion dollars during the holidays, which accounts for over 19% of annual retail sales.
So what actions can be implemented to take control of stress, warding off mental health issues for a more balanced and proactive festive season?
#1 Quit Facebook for a Higher Level of Wellbeing
According to a new study by University of Copenhagen, Facebook use affects well being negatively, with those who took a break from the social network experiencing higher levels of satisfaction and positive feelings.
The study examined one thousand three hundred Danish people, consisting on 86 percent women, geographically residing throughout the country, with an average age of 34 years old, having on average 350 friends and spending a bit over an hour on Facebook daily.
The conclusion was “people’s life satisfaction increases significantly when they quit Facebook for 1 week.”
“On the emotion items, the treatment group also reported significantly higher levels than the control group.”
“This provides evidence to confirm people’s emotional life improves significantly when they quit Facebook for 1 week.”
A previous study by Sagioglou and Greitemeyer found that 20 minutes of active Facebook use diminished the users’ mood when compared to 20 minutes of Internet browsing.
Perhaps the antidote is stepping away from cellphones, computers or digital devices and looking into someone’s eyes, having a conversation and looking at Christmas meals without posting them on Instagram.
Taking a break from social media and the Internet may not only be eye-opening but may give one an insight into a pre-Facebook era where selfies didn’t exist.
#2 Gwyneth Paltrow: ‘Clean Sleeping’ is 2017’s Next Big Health Trend
Cold winter months, decreased sunlight and Christmas planning can lead to stress, anxiety and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), reducing energy levels and sleep.
Gwyneth Paltrow, 44, the poster woman for clean living is now adding clean sleeping, saying that seven or eight hours of quality sleep should be the main priority over diet.
She told the Daily Mail, “My nutrition expert Dr Frank Lipman has explained to me that poor-quality sleep can be unsettling for the metabolism and hormones, which can lead to weight gain, bad moods, impaired memory and brain fog, as well as serious health concerns such as inflammation and reduced immunity (which can increase your risk of chronic disease).”
“And it goes without saying that poor sleep is terrible from a beauty perspective.”
According to the Better Sleep Council:
* More women feel that they are not getting enough sleep (53%) than men (44%).
* Adults 35 to 54 years old feel more sleep deprived (52%) than other adults (44% for adults 18 to 34, and 42% for adults 55 and older).
* Women are more in tune to sleep needs, yet suffer more from lack of sleep than men.
Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, 2006 discovered that stress around the holidays is disproportionately felt by women.
This is because women are more likely to feel that stress increases around the holidays (44 percent of women report an increase of stress during the holidays versus 31 percent of men).
#3 Happiness is: Partnership, Good Mental Health and Earning More than Friends
The London School of Economics (LSE) did a presentation for a new book at the center for Economic and Policy Research that examined well-being surveys from: the US, UK, Germany and Australia using 200,000 participants.
The findings showed that doubling pay raised the happiness scale on a 1-10 system by .2 points.
Having a partner boosted contentment to .6 points, showing that non-monetary factors made people happier, with mental health playing a major contribution to happiness.
Whilst pay didn’t lead to greater life satisfaction, earning more than friends increased mood. However, the long-term investment into children’s emotional health was the best way to predict adult life satisfaction.
As pointed by an LSE article, a Gallup study that asked respondents, respondents ‘What is the smallest amount of money a family of four needs to get along in this community?’ and found that answers were affected by the average real incomes in the community.
As the festive season approaches, partners, friends and loved ones are integral to positive mental health and feelings of inclusion. Whilst keeping up with your friends’ income bracket may give you a sense of superiority, keeping up with the Jones’ is always a recipe for disaster, even if it is a human habit.
#4 Eat Superfoods To Reduce Stress
In cold months it’s easy to grab comfort food like pasta, chips and chocolate but adding superfoods like spinach, blueberries and strawberries could decrease stress levels.
According to American Psychological Association study, The Impact of Stress, nearly 40 percent of Americans overeat or eat unhealthy foods because of stress.
One reason for stress among lower middle-income people in the United States was found to be because of the financial crunch around the holidays (apa.org).
Furthermore, “The struggle to afford and to purchase material goods is particularly acute for this group. Lower middle income individuals feel the pressure of commercialism and hype during the holidays, as well as the financial worries of being able to afford the holidays without running up credit card debt.”
Examples of stress-busting superfoods include: green leafy vegetables, salmon, pistachios, blueberries, dark chocolate, seeds and avocado.
Carbs such as oats can regulate serotonin in your brain, which balances out mood while fruits that are vitamin c and anti-oxidant rich, like strawberries can supplement sugar cravings.
#5 Release Tension By Moving
According to National Human Activity Pattern Survey (NHAPS) commissioned by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), most people spent at least 93 percent of their time indoors or in the car, leading to a sedentary culture.
Let’s Move! Initiative launched by Michelle Obama is helping to stop obesity by getting children up and moving, but what is being done for adults who lead largely sedentary lives?
Easy ways to get up and start moving are by jumping on a trampoline, or on the spot if you do not have the equipment.
The Journal of Applied Physiology, 2011, discovered that jumping on a trampoline increases your resistance to fatigue and improves your health by increasing mitochondrial biogenesis in your brain, which reduces y fatigue and dementia.
Or why not try hoola hooping to lift mood, firm your stomach muscles, building strength and stamina? The beauty of this exercise is that it can be done alone or with others.
Celebrities that hoola hoop includes: actress Zooey Deschanel, actress Lupita Nyong’o and singer Janelle Monae.
What are you doing to reduce stress this festive season?