Exercises to Help You Ease Holiday Stress

Exercises to Help You Ease Holiday Stress

Research has shown that, when humans move in tandem, we are primed to feel as if the boundaries between us are dissolving, creating a sense of shared humanity, said Emiliya Zhivotovskaya, founder of The Flourishing Center, which coaches individuals and organizations in positive psychology .

Group dance classes, like Zumba or the classic Jazzercise, are an excellent way to experience this sense of community, said Ms. Zhivotovskaya, who is also an instructor with the mind-body dance fitness program intenSati. “When we move in unison, a part of brain gets activated that tells us, ‘oh, we’re not alone.’”

Plus, when you’re trying to follow along with a group, it’s hard to be in your head, she said, which can quiet any stress-inducing “mind chatter.”

Scientists have found that people who experience awe report lower levels of daily stress. Try planning a creative “microadventure” to calm your mind: Take a familiar bike ride in the dark to see your surroundings with fresh eyes, or do a day hike on a local mountain, pausing along the way to revel in the views.

Or you can simply step outside. A growing body of research suggests that spending time in nature, even just in a city park, can have a soothing effect on our minds and bodies, including lowering stress hormones and reducing physical measures of stress such as blood pressure.

“Benefits can range from increased feelings of happiness and emotional well-being to positive social interaction to decreased stress and anxiety,” said Gregory Bratman, director of the Environment and Well-Being Lab at the University of Washington.

Maybe you’re traveling and away from your regular gym or equipment — or you’re home, but your favorite studio is closed for the holidays. Turn the obstacle into a challenge to try something different.


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