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It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Joy to the world! Peace on earth! Happy holidays! Or is it? This is one of the most stressful times of the year for many. Family time, travel, gifts to buy, meals to prepare, etc. We want this time of the year to be merry and bright for our family and friends. Feeling overwhelmed is an under-statement.

Kick off December by giving yourself the gift of a wholistic approach to survive the holiday season.

Day 9 of the 12 Days of Christmas!

Survival tip #9: Secret Santa Tips on Reducing Holiday Stress

As you've likely gathered, I am a huge fan of brain health. When your brain works right, you work right! The best way for your brain to work well is for you to be healthy. The recommendations that follow are brain healthy ways to manage and handle your stress. Consider doing the following: (Rowe)

  • Deep breathing is an excellent way to overcome stress. The great news is that you can do it anywhere, anytime! The best way to practice this is to inhale and allow your abdomen to expand. Then, when you exhale, pull your abdomen in to push the air out of your lungs. This allows you to expel more air so that you can inhale more deeply.

  • Exercise helps you manage stress because it lowers stress hormones and it raises beta-endorphins (brain’s own natural morphine).

  • Meditation soothes your mind and helps you create a state of deep relaxation. Practicing meditation stimulates the brain by increasing the blood flow to the parts responsible for attention and forethought. Meditation also calms the areas that perceive pain. Meditating for just a few minutes a day can allow you to enjoy the positive results you need to survive the stress of the holidays.

  • Listening to relaxing music helps relieve stress because it triggers biochemical stress reducers in the brain. Create a playlist that you can access easily and quickly when you feel the stress coming on.

  • Massage does more than just alleviate physical pain; it is also good for fighting stress. Give yourself the gift of a massage, or consider giving this great gift to a friend or loved one who may be dealing with holiday stress.

  • Consider using some natural substances that can promote and reduce stress; such as, spearmint or chamomile teas. Another great idea would be to use calming essential oils, such as clary sage, lavender, bergamot, or ylang ylang.

  • A Blessings Journal is a great way to create and maintain a grateful state of mind. Simply take a few moments at the start or end of each day to write down those things for which you are grateful or consider to be a blessing. It's a wonderful habit to practice every day. Not only to write down what you are grateful for, but for looking back over other entries and appreciating your many blessings.

  • Spend time with your pet! By spending time with your fur babies you increase the level of oxytocin, a hormone that reduces the stress hormone cortisol (the stress hormones).

  • Practice Yoga to reduce stress and anxiety. The physical poses combined with the deep breathing techniques can enhance your mood and overall sense of well-being. This is another opportunity to focus and care for yourself.

Another great way to manage holiday stress is with supplements intended to improve and maintain brain health. (Rowe)

  • Magnesium is a mineral that is extremely important in promoting calm, balance and focus.

  • Taurine is one of the most abundant amino acids in the brain and acts as a GABA-like neurotransmitter. Taurine also supports the adrenal glands (crucial for coping with stress).

  • Holy Basil is held in high regard in the East. It is excellent for improving occasional anxiety, feelings of exhaustion, forgetfulness and other stress-related problems.

  • L-theanine is found in green tea, and helps to reduce tension and promote rest.

Please stay tuned for tip #10.


Rowe, Keith. “How to Practice Gratitude and Have Joy This Holiday Season.” BrainMD Blog, 16 Nov. 2018,

Rowe, Keith. “Learn How to Tackle Holiday Stress...the Right Way!” BrainMD Blog, 27 Nov. 2018,

Life, BrainMD. “Brain-Healthy Ways to Soothe Your Stress.” BrainMD Blog, 25 Jan. 2016,

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