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12 Ways to Destress Amidst Holiday Madness


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Take a mistletoe moment Physical affection has been shown to increase your body's levels of oxytocin and dopamine, hormones that reduce stress, so grab your honey and start smooching. Even if you're not feeling frisky, try cuddling for a while; simply touching hands can make the stress hormone cortisol melt away. "When we have strong relationships, we are buffered against the effects of stress," says Kory Floyd, PhD, professor of health and family communication at Arizona State University. "It doesn't mean we don’t have stress, but we tend not to overreact."

Create your own calm Decide on one word that describes the holiday season you want to have this year; it could be Peace, Joy, Love, Family or Serenity. Write it on an index card and tape it to your bathroom mirror. When things get hectic, a glance at your guiding word will remind you of what you really want—and make it easier to cut loose anything that’s distracting you from your goal.

Say it ain't so Yes, you want your holidays to be perfect, but no matter how much you plan (and worry), something will go wrong. Meals get burned, kids make messes, relatives argue, gifts miss the mark. Instead of freaking out, repeat something that reminds you that imperfection is OK, like It is what it is or Life happens. "A moment of self-talk helps us turn off the spigot of thoughts that constantly tell us we're not doing things right," explains Schumann. "It reminds us that the holidays aren’t about being perfect. It's a time to laugh, be with family and share memories."


Originally published on November 1, 2012


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