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6 ways to reduce stress — for more joy — this holiday season

Feeling overwhelmed this time of year? You're not alone. Joy Bauer offers simple tips to help.
/ Source: TODAY

Holiday season offers plenty of opportunities for feeling stressed and anxious — think holiday cards, party invites, family obligations and buying and wrapping all of your presents. And, if you’re watching your waistline, it doesn’t help that there are tempting treats at arm's length everywhere you look. If you’re overwhelmed with lots on your plate, here are six tips to beat holiday stress (ironically, using an acronym of STRESS).

S: Sleep for seven to nine hours a night.

This helps strengthen your resolve, improve your sanity and maintain your weight. In fact, some studies show that when you get a good night’s sleep, you’re more likely to make better food choices. Science also shows that when you’re sleep deprived, you tend to have higher levels of the appetite-stimulating hormone, ghrelin, likely leading to a case of next-day munchies.

If you’re having trouble getting a solid snooze, try making the bedroom a few degrees cooler, say “no” to electronics at bedtime, and avoid eating large, heavy meals late in the evening.

T: Take time for you.

While it’s tempting to reward yourself with edible goodies, consider treating yourself to non-food indulgences (they exist!). Need some ideas? Try a delicious-smelling candle, a fresh manicure, a bubble-bath or a fun magazine — anything goes.

R: Relax.

Unwind and sooth away stress with a cup of my Chaos Calmer Tea. The active ingredient is chamomile tea, which acts as a mid sedative and may help ease anxiety. Get the recipe.

E: Exhale.

Hit your internal “pause” button and take a few deep breaths. Think about three things you're grateful for or three things your proud of. You’ll instantly feel more positive and less bogged down by the negative stuff thrown your way. Make this a consistent part of your holiday routine. Music optional.

S: Snack smarter.

Before digging into treats lying around the house or office, ask yourself if you’re really hungry, or if you’re just stressed. If the answer is the latter, distract yourself with another activity; try calling a friend, taking a quick walk, reorganizing your purse or closet (if you’re home). And, if you can’t figure out which it is, have a stress relief snack on hand like a bag of crunchy baby carrots, creamy Greek yogurt, or 10 raspberries stuffed with semi-sweet chocolate chips (yum!).

S: Step it up.

Get your steps in wherever you can and keep track on your phone or pedometer. Walk around the block, park farther away at the mall, take the stairs, or pace while you’re on the phone. Aim for 10,000 steps each day to help you destress and stay fit. Keep calm and holiday on!

For healthy tips, follow Joy on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and check out her cookbook From Junk Food to Joy Food.

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