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How to prioritize your well-being—and still stay in the holiday spirit.  

You know what they say: It’s the most wonderful time of the year. The less popular (but equally as important) holiday sentiment is that it’s also the most expensive, stressful, and busiest time of the year. Although a truly magical season to celebrate with family and friends, the holidays can also lead to added stress and anxiety that can wreak havoc on your sleep cycle and overall well-being. 

While it’s so important to take advantage of this special time and share holiday cocktails with friends, wrap presents for loved ones, and indulge in delicious seasonal treats, it’s equally as crucial to prioritize sleep, self-care, and balance during this season of heightened stress and activity. 

HOLIDAY FOOD + DRINK  

Sugary sweets and seasonal cocktails are a part of the holidays that most of us have a love hate relationship with. Although delicious wintery treats, overdoing it on certain foods and alcoholic beverages can have some negative effects on your sleep cycle. 

Studies have shown that alcohol may increase deep sleep at the beginning stages of rest, but can also cause disruptions to REM sleep phases (that deep, restorative stage of sleep) later in the night. 

Similarly, sugary sweets may provide you with a short sugar high, but often lead to restlessness when it’s time for lights out.

The good news is, it’s still possible to indulge in all the sweetness the holiday season has to offer without sacrificing your well-being. In addition to the obvious “everything in moderation” tactic, opt for a holiday-themed happy hour (think: 5pm start time) so your body has time to process the added alcohol and sugar before bedtime. The result? A new holiday tradition, and a healthier, more rested you. 

ADDED FINANCIAL STRESS  

It’s no secret that the holidays are a time of indulgence—and that mindset so often shows up as overwhelming balances on our credit card statements. Never mind the day-to-day stress and anxiety of debt and money strife, experts also say that the toll of financial burden is linked to higher rates of migraines, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and even stroke. On the mental health side of things, financial stress can also be a direct contributor to depression and anxiety—both conditions directly linked to insomnia. 

When it comes to cutting down on excess holiday spending, you’ve got options. This year, propose a one-gift-per-person ‘Secret Santa Gift Exchange’ with your family and friends—all the fun and excitement of gift giving, minus the heavy financial toll. 

Additionally, prioritizing time with loved ones over material exchanges can be just as rewarding, and spare your wallet at the same time. Even if you’re celebrating virtually this year, spending time with your nearest and dearest releases Oxytocin (aka the “happy hormone'') which provokes feelings of contentment, calmness, and security. 

AN OVERPACKED SCHEDULE  

The holidays are a time when social obligations, end of year deadlines, and other seasonal commitments can quickly spiral out of control. The resulting stress and anxiety of trying to pack everything into your schedule, people please, and play either generous host or excited guest can have a serious impact on your mental and physical well-being

Just like sweet treats, social obligations should be accepted in moderation. When it comes to making time to recharge, adopt the same mindset you have with penciling social events into your schedule. Consciously block off time to do absolutely nothing (or another activity or practice that relaxes and recharges you). Take a hot bath, nap under a calming weighted blanket, or simply spend some quiet time alone to recharge your batteries and re-emerge rested and refreshed.