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8 Holiday Stress Relief Tips We Stole from Santa Clause

Vitamin G, Glamour Magazine
Healthy Living
December 11, 2012

by Gina Roberts-Grey, Glamour

No, we haven't watched too many Claymation holiday specials--just stay with us here, OK? No one, it seems, is immune to the anxiety that is the entire month of December. No one, that is, except the dude in the red suit who's merry all. the. time. Here's what you can learn from the big guy.

Holiday Stress Relief Tip: Go caroling to boost your mood.
If you've caught yourself belting "Jingle Bells" or "Silent Night" in the shower, you're on your way to upping production of the brain's happiness hormones, according to Harvard University scientists. Plus, more researchers have found that even if you can't remember all the words, singing what you do know or humming the joyful tune has also been shown to help blood flow to your heart.

Holiday Stress Relief Tip: Don seasonal colors for extra confidence.
Dressing festively may feel like a reprisal of your role in the third-grade Christmas revue, but it's not just for elves. Researchers in Istanbul found that people wearing green felt peaceful and confident, and those wearing red felt excitement and love. Our advice: Wrap yourself in seasonal hues for a bit of Zen during chaotic shopping trips. Don't worry--there are ways to do it without looking like you stepped out of a bad family holiday card.

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Holiday Stress Relief Tip: Laugh and be jolly to unwind.

If you're human, you'll feel overwhelmed at some point during holidays. So throw on some Louis CK and giggle your head off. "Laughter relaxes the body and releases stress," says Fran Walfish, Psy.D., a family psychotherapist and author in Beverly Hills. A big chuckle helps calm your body's production of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, which are responsible for feelings of anxiety and uptightness.

Holiday Stress Relief Tip: Exercise in a winter wonderland for a clear head.
We've never heard of a Santa suffering from seasonal affective disorder--perhaps it's that chill at the North Pole. Swiss scientists found that exercising in the crisp winter air is better at helping you feel anxiety-free than breaking a sweat indoors. Exercising in the cold keeps your internal temperature low, so your workout feels easier. Bonus: Sharpness in the air also wakes you up and motivates you to move.

Holiday Stress Relief Tip: Decompress with a cup of cocoa.
You could toast the holidays with eggnog or champers…or you could fill your glass with hot cocoa, which if made with real dark chocolate is packed with blood pressure-reducing flavonols. Researchers found that the natural plant compounds packed in one cup of hot chocolate shaved two to three points off a person's blood pressure, which can help you stay calm when your grandmother brings up your relationship status at the dinner table.

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Holiday Stress Relief Tip: Keep up energy levels with peppermint.

New research shows that a whiff of peppermint is good at fighting fatigue. You may not be delivering presents to the world's children overnight, but who can decline a boost to help power through a marathon shopping day or a holiday party that follows eight hours at the office?

Holiday Stress Relief Tip: Say ho, ho, ho to friends and family for happiness.
According to a study in Psychological Science, having deep convos with family and close friends can make your spirits, er, bright. Researchers found that people who spend about 70 percent of their day engaged in thoughtful conversation with loved ones were much happier than those who are isolated or just make idle chitchat.

Holiday Stress Relief Tip: Have sex to lower stress levels.
Go ahead and put yourself on the Naughty List: Princeton University researchers found that getting it on is linked to reduced production of corticosterone, a stress hormone, which means you'll feel less strung out after some passion. And use some of these sexy gift ideas while you're at it.

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