While the holidays can be magical, they can also be stressful. You can feel like you’re going out all the time, like you don’t have time to recharge, like you have work and family and friend commitments. In the midst of all that, self-care can seem like a chore more than a pleasure.
Garden of Life, one of my long-time partners and favorite brands, has launched their #RealFeels campaign, about tiny tweaks that can make a big difference, so I thought it’d be helpful to put together a list of my favorite tiny tweaks that help alleviate anxiety—without adding more to your to-do list. What would you add to the list?
1. Pick up a good fiction book and spend 10 minutes every morning reading it. I’ll be sharing my top 10 books of the year soon, so make sure you’re subscribed so you don’t miss it!
2. Rub your feet out on a lacrosse ball. Instant ahhhhh. This is the one I use at home.
3. Go outside for 10 minutes every day, even if it’s cold, even if it’s just to sip your coffee. Zack and I have started a tradition of going to our local park to drink our smoothies in the morning. As a bonus, getting sunlight early in the day helps regulate your circadian rhythms, which means you’ll sleep better at night.
4. Try 4-7-8 breathing, which is scientifically proven to reduce reduce stress in less than a minute. Just breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds, hold it for 7 seconds, the breathe out through your nose for 8 seconds. Repeat 4 times. This one is especially useful for falling asleep.
5. Take a probiotic every single morning. I love the Mood Plus probiotic from Garden of Life, which has specific strains of bacteria designed to help with stress and anxiety, plus organic ashwagandha as an extra boost. Whenever I take it regularly, I notice a huge difference in my overall ability to cope with stressful situations.
6. Splurge on a mug you love and make your morning drink—whether it’s matcha or coffee or mushrooms—a daily ritual you look forward to. I love this one from A Question of Eagles.
7. Start every day with a green smoothie. That way, no matter what else you eat for the rest of the day, you’ve had a solid vegetable base that will help make you feel great. I love this pumpkin pie one, and this chocolate cherry almond one.
8. Don’t overbook yourself. Social time is meant to be fun—if it’s yet another thing on your to-do list, it misses the point.
9. Carry around a tiny vial of lavender essential oil. Warm a drop or two between your palms, then inhale deeply. I love this one from Garden of Life, which is organic.
10. During family time, plan activities you actually enjoy. Take your mom to a yoga class. Take your dad to a movie you’ve been wanting to see. You can expose them to your favorite parts of your life, and have new, fun things to talk about.
11. Make yourself an anti-stress tea toolkit. Try one with lemon balm, one with tulsi, and a reishi mushroom powder (I love the ones from Four Sigmatic). Sip at least one daily.
12. Make only one food rule for the holidays, but follow it well: you can eat anything you love, but you must truly enjoy the entire experience of it. No mindless cookies in front of the TV, and no guilt-trips in the morning.
13. Every time you find yourself close to a friendly cat or dog, give it a good nuzzle. Gotta love those pheromones.
14. Re-watch Friends, Sex and the City, or another show that just makes you feel good.
15. Give one person a big hug (with consent!) every day, whether it’s a friend, co-worker, partner, or family member. Consider it a serotonin supplement.
16. Ask your mom, dad, aunt, uncle or grandparent about their childhood. You might find out something fascinating, and you get a break from questions about your life choices. A few good questions: what was your favorite food growing up? Who was your first boyfriend/girlfriend? What was your prom like? What’s the best vacation you’ve ever taken?
17. Do a face mask. Bonus points if you get a relative to join you when you’re home for the holidays.
18. Stay hydrated, and keep your blood sugar stable by making sure you’re eating healthy fats and protein. Thirst and hunger can mimic anxiety, and make you feel it for real.
19. Add magnesium to your daily routine. My friend Gretchen wrote a book about how amazing magnesium is for stress relief, and many of us are deficient in the mineral. I love adding a few cups of Epsom salts to a bath (you need to use more than you think and you don’t need the fancy expensive ones—I use this brand and just add a few drops of lavender essential oil to make it smell good). I also love sipping this raspberry lemon Garden of Life magnesium powder before going to sleep.
20. Lower your expectations for yourself. 20 minutes of exercise is more than enough. Not every work project is urgent. Dinner can be takeout. You’re doing great.
This post is sponsored by Garden of Life, a brand I’ve used and loved for years. Thank you for supporting the brands that allow me to create content for all of you!