There's nothing quite like the holidays to make you feel warm and fuzzy inside. The sparkly Christmas lights, happy children and heartwarming holiday movies (Elf, anyone?) tend to make even the most Scrooge-like person smile.
Unfortunately, all that holiday joy can often come with extra stress. Shopping for gifts in crowded stores, inevitable family drama and holiday traffic often make even the biggest holiday lovers among us stressed out of our minds. And you know one of the best ways to deal with stress, holiday-related or not? To sweat it out!
Here are five of my favorite exercises to beat stress during the holidays. Even if the holidays don't stress you out, these moves can still help you burn off all those extra calories you're bound eat.
Burpees are one of those exercises that most people have a love/hate relationship with, but they're such a great, efficient, full-body exercise that no matter how you feel about them, you should do them anyway.
Since burpees will start to tire you out within the first 10-20 reps, they're a fantastic exercise to do when you're feeling a little frazzled to help boost your heart rate, bring your stress levels down and burn some extra calories while you're at it.
To do them, stand up straight, then lower into a squat position with your hands on the floor in front of you. Kick your feet back into a push up position and immediately drop your chest to the floor. Bow your chest up as you return your feet back to the squat position as fast as possible, then jump up into the air as high as you can. Add a little clap for pizzazz, then do it all over again!
You can also do burpees with a full push up or end in a plank rather than lowering all the way to the floor.
2. Jump rope
Jumping rope is not only a fun and effective way to burn calories and boost your conditioning, it's also a great stress reliever as well. Since jump ropes are totally portable, you can bring one with you and take it out whenever you need a stress buster throughout the day.
Here are a couple of jump rope variations you can try:
High knees with a jump rope: Grab a jump rope with both hands and raise one knee at a time towards your chest while swinging the jump rope around.
Double unders: Just like they sound, double unders require you to get the rope under your feet twice in one jump. They're a fairly advanced exercise, so don't get discouraged if you can't do them at first.
Not only will handstands help improve strength and balance, they can also boost your mood and help lower stress since the blood flow to your brain has an energizing and calming effect.
If you've never done one before, simply start by walking your feet up a wall (so that your chest is facing the wall) or kicking up against a wall (your back will be facing the wall) so you're vertical against the wall. Push up through your shoulders and tighten your core, then try holding this for 10-30 seconds for 3-4 sets.
If you can't hold it at all yet, you can practice walking up and down the wall until you start building up strength.
There's nothing quite like hitting or kicking something really hard to help relieve any stress you're dealing with over the holidays or any time of year. Any time I'm feeling frustrated, overwhelmed or just plain angry, I'll hit my punching bag for a few minutes like crazy and magically, I'll have punched all that energy and stress away. Seriously, if you've never boxed when you're upset or stressed out, you've gotta try it — it's the best thing ever.
To get into boxing, you can find a class at your local gym, locate a punching bag or even shadow box if you can't find anything to actually hit. You'll burn off all that stress and tons of calories as well (but make sure to punch hard for maximum stress relieving effect!).
Like boxing, sprinting requires you to give it your all, helping to tire you out so much that you have no more energy for stress afterwards.
To do it, find an open space or a track and run as fast as you can for 10-20 seconds. Much more than that, and you'll end up jogging rather than sprinting, which won't have quite the same stress-busting effect. Try to do 5-10 of these while resting a little between and remember to work hard!
Don't have any room to sprint (or maybe it's just too cold outside)? Just sprint in place! You'll still get your heart rate up and get similar stress-busting effects to sprinting.
Photo courtesy of author