How to Manage Holiday Stress

Let's face it – the holiday season can be stressful. From Black Friday shopping to Christmas Day travel, the holiday season presents many challenges. As such, you'll want to do everything you can to prepare for holiday stress.

Fortunately, exercise represents a great stress reliever, particularly during the holiday season. Exercise will help you boost your overall health and give you more energy to accomplish your day-to-day goals. Plus, exercise offers numerous stress-relieving benefits, including:

  • Increased Endorphins: Endorphins, i.e. the brain's feel-good neurotransmitters, have been shown to trigger a positive feeling throughout the body. Thus, spending a few minutes exercising may help you bolster your endorphin levels, ensuring you're better equipped to deal with stress day after day. 
  • Improved Mood: Exercise may help reduce the symptoms commonly associated with anxiety and depression. It enables you to work your body hard, and by doing so, relax the body. Exercise may even help you boost your self-confidence and improve your overall mood. 
  • Unparalleled Stress Management: Exercise empowers you to use motion and physical activity to shed through daily stress. As a result, you can enjoy a light or vigorous exercise program to help you take your mind off of daily tensions and lower your stress levels. 

So which exercise is best for you, and how often should you do it to kick your stress to the curb? Here are five of the best exercises to help you relieve holiday stress: 

  1. Aerobics: Aerobic exercises get your heart pumping and your blood flowing. We recommend finding an activity you love – for example running, dancing, power walking, swimming, or cycling – and doing it 3 days a week for 30 minutes. It might be hard to get started but once you experience an “endorphin high” you’ll be hooked. Endorphins are “natural opiates” released by the body during exercise.  
  2. Yoga/Pilates: Yoga and pilates are often lumped into the same genre of exercise, but the 2 are very different. Yoga is the linking of movement with breath as you flow through a series of poses. Students who practice twice a week for 30-45 minutes benefit from reduced stress, increased strength and flexibility, better sleep, and improved posture . Pilates, on the other hand, gets deep into core strength, stability, and endurance through a series of controlled movements. Its founder, Joseph Pilates, said people who consistently performed the exercises for 10 minutes per day would experience dramatic results. 
  3. Strength Training: Strength training is key to optimal bone health and improved metabolic function. Compound exercises, or exercises like squats that put pressure on more than one joint AND recruit multiple muscle groups, maximize endorphin output and give you the most bang for your buck. If you’re new to strength training stick to three moderate weight sets of 10 repetitions, with 1-minute of rest between sets. Be sure to give your body at least one day to recover after a rigorous workout.
  4. H.I.I.T./Interval Training: High-intensity interval training (H.I.I.T.) emphasizes quick bursts of intense exercise followed by short periods of recovery. It is thought to be one of the most efficient ways to improve athletic performance, increase strength, and burn fat. H.I.I.T. training principles can be applied to both strength training and aerobic activities, and are most appropriate for people with an established, baseline fitness level.  
  5. Meditation: Meditation is one of those activities that is hard to articulate. Some call it stillness of mind, while others describe it as the observation of the ebb and flow of thought without judgment or attachment. Regardless of how you practice, or define it, the benefits of meditation are huge – reduced stress, increased focus and productivity, and improved wellbeing. The more you meditate, the more you’re benefit, but as little as 5 minutes per day will do the trick. 

Clearly there are tons of exercise options – all of which help you kick your seasonal stress to the curb. However the most important part of any exercise routine is consistency. Pick movements and activities you enjoy to establish your routine, then add variety. 

At Total Woman Gym + Spa we offer a wide range of fitness activities. If you’re inspired by the energy of community drop into one of our group fitness classes to pump, kick and crunch your stress away. For a more personal experience create a motivational playlist and hit the weights, or zone out on the cardio floor. Whatever you need to do to keep your holiday stress at bay we’ve got you covered. The best part? Your first 3 days at Total Woman Gym + Spa are always free.