Andy Williams claims it’s the most wonderful time of the year, but for many, feeling happy during the holidays is hard.
Whether you are feeling the financial strain of shopping splurges, lonely and missing a loved one, or are simply overwhelmed by the stress of a jam-packed seasonal schedule, there are a lot of complex emotions in the coming weeks. And with all the holiday hoopla happening, it’s common to neglect self-care just when your brain and body need it most.
For the month of December, your goal should be to dedicate 20 minutes each day to personal time. You’ll be surprised just how powerful that time is for nourishing your physical, mental, and emotional health.
Here are three easy exercises to boost your mood this season:
Give thanks. When a visit to the store means a sensory overload of cranked up Christmas carols, and a slew of supersized inflatable Santas ho-ho-hoping you’ll buy a few for your front lawn, it’s easy to get caught up in the manufactured merriment.
Practicing gratitude requires more consideration than acquiring material possessions, but the rewards are so much greater. After all, contentment gained through objects fades as the item loses its luster or is used up.
For this gratitude exercise you’ll need to allot five minutes each morning to being mindful of your body and thoughts.
After week one, graduate to giving thanks for others, their impact on your life, and ways in which you can strengthen these bonds.
Get outside. Nothing clears your mind and recharges your batteries quite like fresh air and sunshine. And yet, most of us spend the majority of the day basking in artificial light.
Spending time outdoors is essential for mental clarity, reducing inflammation in the body, eliminating fatigue, fighting depression and anxiety, lowering your blood pressure, and even extending your longevity.
To achieve the benefits of the great outdoors, go for a five or 10-minute walk when you can.
Exercise your mental monsters. One of the easiest and most effective ways to naturally improve your mood, squash stress and improve sleep is through exercise.
Because time is valuable and limited during the holidays, you’ll want a workout that’s quick and hassle-free, and will fry fat fast. All you need is 20 minutes, a stopwatch, and a small space to complete this total-body circuit:
Jumping jacks, 60 seconds
Plank walkouts, 50 seconds
Squat step outs, 40 seconds
Stationary lunge pulses, 30 seconds
Rest for one minute. For best results, repeat the circuit three times.