5 ways to bust holiday stress — that work in 2 minutes or less
By Sherri Young,
The holiday season — with all its stresses — is just around the corner. And so are
all the people waiting to bury you with good advice about how to cope with holiday
stress. This sometimes makes you even more stressed because it means you’re supposed
to also be cheerful and relaxed. And you don’t have time to do an hour
of calming tai chi or get a massage. There’s too much to get done!
When finding time for yourself seems impossible, these quick and easy steps can
have a significant impact on your
1. Press the Hoku spot.
This key pressure point between your thumb and index finger helps reduce anxiety
and stress. All you do is pinch and apply pressure on either hand, or both in sequence,
while breathing deeply.
Stuck in traffic or in a line at the bank? Pinch the Hoku spot while you wait.
2. Practice Kundalini nostril breathing.
Here’s a tip if you don’t have time to for a yoga
class. One of the reasons yoga is so good for stress relief is its emphasis
on breathing deeply and evenly. A technique that is particularly effective is kundalini
nostril breathing. Hold your right nostril closed with your finger and breathe deeply
and slowly through the left nostril for several minutes. Longer, if you’re feeling
This maneuver may take more practice than the Hoku spot. But it will help you balance
out the classic stress response of the sympathetic nervous system. Which, strange
but true, has been proven to be activated by breathing through the right nostril.
Its benefits on your blood pressure are almost immediate, according to the research.
And unlike that glass of wine to calm down, you can do it over and over.
3. Surround yourself with citrus scent.
There’s scientific evidence that the scent of citrus fruits produces changes in
neurotransmitters to improve mood. You can easily get these benefits by using lemons
or oranges in your cooking or adding a lemon or lime wedge to your water. You can
also try essential oils of lemon, orange, or grapefruit to get this effect through
4. Try hemp oil with CBD.
Cannabidiol (CBD) has been
found in several studies to produce anti-anxiety and antidepressant effects. It’s
not psychoactive (there’s no THC in the best brands, and only trace amounts in the
others) so it won’t make you “high.” CBD oil has been shown to be effective in reducing
anxiety in randomized trials.
One note of caution:
there are few quality standards in place yet. So labels may not accurately reflect
what’s in the bottle. Look for a reputable seller who puts lab results from independent
labs on their website to verify the CBD quantity in its product. We recommend non-GMO
hemp sourcing, CO2 extraction, standardized dosing and verified THC-free.
5. Start your day with a minute of joy.
For many of us, the holidays are stressful in part because everyone around you seems
to insist on being “up” — cheerful, social, celebrating. But research has shown
that emotional states tend to reinforce themselves. So if you’re in a negative mood,
you tend to brood on that fact and feel even worse. Fortunately, the reverse is
If you find yourself awash in negative emotions — time pressure, irritability, bad
memories, you name it — take a page from cognitive behavioral therapy practice.
You can consciously work to change your emotional state. Here’s how.
Find something that you associate with happiness and positive feelings. And then
make a point of giving a few minutes each morning to contemplating that thing. Whether
it’s a happy memory, something good that happened to you recently, or even cute
baby animal videos on the internet, run with it! Those minutes each morning are
set aside for you to embrace the things that bring you joy — and set yourself on
a positive spin at the start of each day. You can do it at night, too, if you find
yourself staying awake from worry, stress or sadness.
Bonn-Miller MO, Loflin MJE, Thomas BF, et al. Labeling accuracy of cannabidiol extracts
sold online. JAMA. 2017;318(17):1708-1709. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.11909
Fasinu PS, Phillips S, ElSohly MA, Walker LA. Current Status and Prospects for Cannabidiol
Preparations as New Therapeutic Agents. Pharmacotherapy. 2016 Jul;36(7):781-96.
Raj RJ, Anusha R, Naveen J. Immediate effect of slow paced unilateral left nostril
breathing with internal breath retention on blood pressure. Asian Journal of Complementary
& Alternative Medicine 2017;5(16): 7–10.
Kiecolt-Glaser JK, Graham JE, Malarkey WB, et al. Olfactory influences on mood and
autonomic, endocrine, and immune function. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2008 Apr; 33(3):
328–339. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2007.11.015
Lee EJ, Frazier SK. The efficacy of acupressure for symptom management: a systematic
review. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management 2011;42(4):589-603. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2011.01.007
Matsumoto T, Kimura T, Hayashi T. Aromatic effects of a Japanese citrus fruit—yuzu
(Citrus junos Sieb. ex Tanaka)—on psychoemotional states and autonomic nervous system
activity during the menstrual cycle: a single-blind randomized controlled crossover
study. BioPsychoSocial Medicine 2016;10:11 https://doi.org/10.1186/s13030-016-0063-7
WebMD. Does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Treat Depression? Available at https://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/cognitive-behavioral-therapy-for-depression#1.