'Tis the season to be stressed out. Ten ways to calm down and carry on.

'Tis the season to be stressed out. Ten ways to calm down and carry on.

Winter is a tough season for some people to get excited about. It's cold and dark so it takes extra effort to find motivation. Add in the festive season and stress levels peak. Don’t let the season bring you down. Here are our top ways to pick up your mood and hopefully reduce some stress.

Meditate – you don’t need to get down on the floor and cross your legs but there is something to be said about positive inner talk. Saying “I can’t do this,” or “I can’t accomplish that,” will only darken your mood. Try sitting straight up with both feet on the floor so your blood can flow freely. Close your eyes and soften your mood. Breath deep and slow. Suggest positive thoughts to yourself. Pick an easy one like “I have a nice smile,” or, “I am at peace.” Feel your heart slow down. Remember your positive thoughts and say them over and over when you are fighting traffic or lines.

Like the Travel Alberta tag-ine…remember to breathe and breathe deep. Sit or stand tall. Focus on nothing or shut your eyes. Put your hand on your tummy and breath in through your nose deeeeeeeep. Feel it all the way down to your belly before slowly releasing it through your mouth.

Sit down with a pad of paper and write down a single thing that is stressing you out. Little things can add up to make big problems but, you can turn that into little efforts can add up to reduce big problems. Let’s say you write down, “bills.” Make a list of ways you can tackle that stress. Stop buying lattes, take the bus, shop at good will stores. Those little efforts can reduce your stress.

Prepare for tomorrow with a to-do list so that tomorrow starts prepared.

Eat right. When we are under stress, the good food goes out the window and the chips and ice cream are calling your name. Keep healthy snacks closer than the chips and try to grab those first.

Walk outside and listen to the snow crunch under your shoes. Just focus on your feet, the sound and the air.

Exercise of any sort can ease depression and anxiety by forcing your brain to release feel-good chemicals like endorphins.

Watch reruns of Gilligan’s Island, I love Lucy or any sitcom that makes you laugh. A good laugh is said to lower cortisol (your bodies stress hormone).

Crank up the tunes. Line up some music you know the words to and sing like no one is listening. Shout it out. It feels so good!

This one is going to hurt…turn off the phone and stay away from social media – even just for the evening. That dang binging of texts! Why do we let it control us?

If you don’t feel better. If the stress is unmanageable and it's causing you to lose sleep, friends and control and dark thoughts linger too long - seek help. Talk to trustworthy friends or talk to professionals.

In B.C. call the Mental Health Support Line from anywhere in the province 310-6789 or www.cmha.bc.ca

In Alberta call the Mental Health Support Line from anywhere in the province toll free 1-877-303-2642 or www.albertahealthservices.ca

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