Many people find the holidays to be a time of stress as well as joy. That's why Robert I. Danoff, DO, an osteopathic family physician from Philadelphia, says it's so important to give yourself a small "gift" every day. Dr. Danoff's simple tips, inspired by 'The 12 Days of Christmas,' suggest ways to care for your mind, body and spirit this holiday season.
On the first day of Christmas— Take a musical time-out by making a holiday playlist. Listening to music can lower stress hormones, blood pressure and heart rates, as well as decrease anxiety and take your mind off pressing issues.
On the second day of Christmas— Play like a kid. If there is snow on the ground, build a snowman, make a snow angel or take a walk and look at decorations. Simple holiday-inspired crafts and recipes can also provide a fun way to relax.
On the third day of Christmas— Learn to focus on one task at a time instead of multitasking. When you are wrapping presents or making cookies, take time to enjoy the smell, taste and memories of these happy times instead of running from one task to the next.
On the fourth day of Christmas— Remind yourself to look out the window and enjoy nature. Gazing out the window can lower your heart and breathing rate and help lift your mood.
On the fifth day of Christmas— Remember the spirit of the season and express gratitude. Being grateful for what you have can help you be happy. You can make gratitude a daily practice by taking a moment to think about three things you're thankful for.
On the sixth day of Christmas— Learn to say “No, no, no” instead of “Go, go, go.” This can help us prevent over-committing, which allows more time to enjoy the holidays.
On the seventh day of Christmas— Make sure you exercise. Sticking to your regular exercise schedule during the holidays reduces stress. Even a 20-minute walk three times a week can make a difference.
On the eighth day of Christmas— Create a personal space. Whether it's your bedroom, car, kitchen or bathroom, find a place that can be your peaceful place for a five-minute recharge.
On the ninth day of Christmas— Make a point to eat healthy. Good nutrition provides an energy boost, prevents weight gain and provides a healthy boost to the immune system.
On the tenth day of Christmas— Make sure to get your sleep. The gift of good sleep gives you both a physical and mental boost which will help concentration, memory and mood.
On the 11th day of Christmas— Volunteer to help others in your community. Giving time to help others in need can lift the spirits of others as well as your own, and takes the focus off your concerns.
On the 12th Day of Christmas— Let yourself really feel your emotions. While the holidays are a happy time, they can also bring up memories of past loss or hurt feelings. Instead of bottling them inside, allow yourself to feel them and move forward in a healthy way.