Five Ways to Beat Holiday Stress in the Hudson Valley

’Tis the season for nonstop stress. Here’s how to keep the “ho ho ho” in your holidays

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Here’s how to stay calm, cool, and collected amid unconventional celebrations, socially distant gatherings, and stay-at-home days all winter long.

The holidays are the time of year when family and friends typically gather for good food, good laughs, and good company. This year will undoubtedly look a little different, and will have its fair share of unique stressors. With endless Zoom parties and dinners, socially distant get-togethers, and gift exchanges, the happy holiday season can quickly turn hectic.

Luckily, there are strategies to call on to cope with holiday stress. Psychologist Christine Ziegler, PhD, of the Hudson Valley Center for Cognitive Therapy in Upper Nyack, finds that advance prioritizing is useful. “Time and energy are finite resources and need to be budgeted in a similar way as you might budget your money during the holiday season. We can stretch ourselves too thin by saying ‘yes’ to every invitation we receive. Be selective and try to avoid taking on new commitments. The adage ‘Less is more’ is especially true in terms of enjoying the fewer things you choose to do,” Dr. Ziegler says.

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Taking some time to get physical exercise is also likely to lessen the stress. “Regular physical activity is consistently shown to improve mood. Think about how you can adjust your exercise routine rather than eliminate it altogether during this time,” says Dr. Ziegler says. “Also try to spend some time in natural sunlight, which can help boost your mood.” And if all else fails, says Dr. Ziegler, and you feel overwhelmed, engage in an activity that has nothing to do with holiday preparations. In addition, make a list of everything you need to do and break it down by week or day to make it more manageable.

Or, try one of these homegrown solutions to banish the humbugs:

Unwind With a Cup of Calming Tea

Tea drinkers across the Hudson Valley enjoy the offerings of Harney & Sons, but nothing beats paying the original tea shop in Millerton a visit. There are literally hundreds of options, but we suggest the “Yellow & Blue,” a mix of chamomile, lavender, and cornflower. It has a calming effect, particularly at bedtime. The tea comes in a tin of 50 sachets for less than $20, and as loose tea leaves for $23 per pound.

Harney & Sons, Millerton. 518-789-2121

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dog songs poetry book

Peruse the Poetry Local Bookshelves

Poetry can be relaxing, inspiring, contemplative, and a window into other worlds. Reading a few lines at a time while strolling the aisles of a cozy bookstore can do wonders. At the Inquiring Minds Bookstore, one poetry-loving employee suggested Mary Oliver’s book of poetry Dog Songs (Penguin, 2013) because they’re lighthearted, make you feel good, and are full of wisdom. Another favorite of Inquiring Minds is Billy Collins’ collection, Aimless Love (Random House, 2013).

Inquiring Minds Bookstore, New Paltz & Saugerties. 845-255-8300

Get a Massage

Hand & Stone’s Swedish massage involves long, fluid strokes of muscles and tissues with pressure that varies from light to medium to firm. The employees have taken extensive measures to ensure the safety of their guests. A Black Friday weekend sale offers a buy one gift card get one free deal, perfect for a holiday present.

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Hand & Stone, Poughkeepsie & New City;  845.859.0068 | 845.708.0808

Take an Online Cooking Class

Holly Shelowitz, owner of Hudson Valley Cooking Classes,  hosts a variety of classes online. She always features recipes with fresh, local ingredients prepared to bring out maximum flavor. Her helpful nutrition information and time-saving tips will keep you calm, cool, and collected throughout your holiday cooking and baking season. Past holiday classes have included roasted yams with an orange pomegranate glaze, carrots with a thyme-infused brown butter, a mushroom-walnut pate, and a wonderfully nutritious sautéed kale salad with fennel, raisins, and pine nuts. Call 845.658.7887 for more information on how to keep your daily plates full of nourishing food.

Take a Walk Outside

Fresh air and a little bit of exercise can do wonders in alleviating stress. With so many hikes, walking paths, and rail trails to choose from, you’ll never run out of beautiful views to take in. Visit our rail trail guide to stay up-to-date on the best places to walk, jog, and bike throughout the Hudson Valley.

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